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Putting logistics into customer service

May 2022

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Steve Ewers, Group Vice President, led a rebranding of the customer service groups at NS, renaming them Customer Logistics to better describe the role they play at NS.

Rebranding customer service groups focuses on the role NS plays in providing transportation solutions

Norfolk Southern has rebranded our customer service teams to reflect the full extent of their contributions to the railroad’s success and the reality of today’s marketplace. As of May 1, the customer service groups across Industrial Products, Coal, Intermodal, and Automotive have been renamed Customer Logistics.

“That title more accurately describes their function and the role they play in creating value for our customers,” said Steve Ewers, Group Vice President, who leads the merchandise and coal side of Customer Logistics. “We provide logistical support, ideally proactively, to solve what is at many times very complicated supply chains.”

A big part of efforts to restore NS service levels involves offering customers critical logistical support to help solve their supply-chain problems, Ewers said – a “value-add” to on-time delivery and intermodal availability.

“We work closely with our customers and our Operations team to identify limiting factors and provide solutions,” he said. “This requires a deep understanding of our customers’ business and how our rail network fits into their supply chains.”

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In the Customer Logistics work area on the 7th floor of NS’ Atlanta headquarters, Steve Ewers, right, confers with Rezaul Hoq, Manager Customer Logistics, who works with customers that ship agriculture and forest products on NS.

A way to recruit and retain top talent

Rebranding the work teams aligns with NS’ strategy to grow the business, said Kevin Saunders, Group Vice President, who leads the Intermodal and Automotive side of Customer Logistics.

“At the end of the day, logistics is what we do,” Saunders said. “Through logistics, we are providing customer service. Sometimes, a name can distinguish the reality of what we’re trying to achieve.”

In addition, Ewers said, the rebranding positions NS to better compete for talent in a marketplace transformed by Amazon, which made the words supply chain and logistics part of our consumer culture. Especially at colleges and universities offering degrees in supply chain and logistics, he said, the rebranding should boost NS’ recruitment efforts. For many, customer service is associated more with call centers than with transportation solutions.

“When we go to these schools, and we say, ‘We’re NS, and we’d like you to consider coming to work with us in customer service,’ it falls flat,” Ewers said. “Our current global environment has revealed how critical logistics is, so the timing is right for this branding. Moving forward, we hope to form deeper relationships with some of the top supply-chain programs in the country.”

Our Human Resources team, which partnered with Ewers on the rebranding, expects the name change to have a positive impact, from recruiting to recognizing the skillsets that NS employees on the customer service side of Marketing bring to the table.

“Changing to logistics aligns better with the work, is more reflective of the responsibilities when looking at the market, and will attract the talent we want,” said Alisa Cotting, Senior HR Business Partner. “Having alignment across the board is something we wanted to do.”

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In our Atlanta headquarters, Tawhana Hall, in foreground, and Cherie Richerson, are specialists on NS’ Customer Logistics team.

Helping NS restore service and grow

Both Ewers and Saunders said their work groups have a vital role to play in helping NS restore our service and capture business from the $800 billion truck market. That includes providing excellent logistical support, a good customer experience, and a quality service product, they said.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Saunders said. “By being proactive, we can help solve our customers’ issues and our issues.”

The interaction between Operations and Customer Logistics is nonstop, Ewers added.

“We work together on ideas and opportunities to improve efficiency and grow volume,” he said. “We play a role in this company’s strategy to grow, and I want our group to be a place where people not only want to come to work but to thrive.”