Enhancing customer experience at the PH premier port

A container vessel is seen departing from Manila International Container Terminal

Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), the Philippines’ premier gateway for international trade and International Container Terminal Services, Inc.’s (ICTSI) flagship operation, continues to introduce innovative solutions that enhance customer experience, further driving efficiency at the heart of the country’s supply chain.

Customer experience in ports comprises a myriad of processes and interactions between the terminal operator, customs authorities, shipping lines, freight forwarders, truckers, cargo owners and other stakeholders. Every aspect of these interactions impacts the overall efficiency of the supply chain. Leveraging technology, the MICT has rolled out the following innovative digital solutions to enhance transparency and make transactions more convenient for port users.

Advance Customer Transaction System

When the global health crisis reached the Philippines in 2020, the MICT transitioned to 100 percent digital payments via ICTSI’s Advance Customer Transaction System. The system offered a convenient, efficient and secure platform that enabled port users to settle their transactions at the comfort and safety of their homes. Eliminating the need to visit the terminal, ACTS helped keep MICT customers safe during the pandemic while streamlining port transactions.

The transition also supports the Philippine Government’s efforts to streamline and further improve the ease of doing business using online platforms and digital payment systems.

ICTSI Support Services Assistant

Last year, MICT introduced the ICTSI Support Services Assistant, or ISSA. This 24/7 chat service is designed to facilitate more efficient customer interaction by providing instant responses to inquiries. Port users can access ISSA via MICT’s website to get answers to frequently asked questions as well as check the status of cargo, trucks and vessels.

“ISSA enhances our support services by enabling us to respond to queries more quickly. The sooner we provide answers, the faster we can address client concerns and expedite their transactions,” said Christian Lozano, MICT chief operating officer.

Besides addressing FAQs, ISSA also empowers MICT customer representatives to assist more clients with more complex and personalized queries.

Terminal Appointment Booking System

The Terminal Appointment Booking System (TABS) is one of the most notable innovations implemented by MICT in recent years. Launched in 2015, TABS is an online platform that enables trucking companies to schedule specific slots for container pick-ups and drop-offs, optimizing cargo movement within the port.

“Having a structured framework for truck arrivals benefits all the stakeholders in the port. TABS helps our clients to plan their trips more effectively leading to potentially lower costs. It also helps us to improve our productivity by enabling us to allocate our resources more effectively and address operational challenges more proactively,” explained Lozano.

Having an appointment system in place regulating the arrival of trucks also helps reduce traffic congestion along city roads leading to the port.

Truck Manifesting

Recognizing the need to further streamline the gate process for external truck drivers, MICT developed the Truck Manifesting feature of TABS. Truck Manifesting allows the advance submission of booking details, truck plate numbers and driver information, simplifying the standard kiosk transaction of truck drivers upon arrival at the terminal.

By having all transaction details submitted in advance, long queues are mitigated during gate processing as only valid truck plates, drivers and gate passes are subjected to confirmation prior to entry at the terminal.

Launched in September last year, Truck Manifesting also automatically opens tandem slots for drop-off containers whenever a pick-up container is booked in TABS. This allows customers to reserve an export booking with a matching zone even before export container details become available.

Kalakbay Rewards

MICT’s commitment to customers extends beyond streamlining processes. The company introduced the Kalakbay Rewards loyalty program to incentivize loyalty and efficiency. The loyalty program allows truck drivers to earn points for every successful transaction at MICT. Drivers can use their accumulated points to redeem electronic vouchers that are valid at various partner establishments like fast-food restaurants, telecommunication providers and e-commerce platforms.

“Creating the Kalakbay Rewards is one of our ways to express appreciation to our partner drivers. We understand the important role they play in the logistics chain, and we aim to add value to their trips to MICT through this incentive program,” said Lozano.

Truck drivers can start earning points and redeeming rewards by downloading the MICT Kalakbay Rewards app from the App Store and Google Playstore.

ICTSI App

Port users can leverage cargo visibility to make better business decisions with the help of the ICTSI App. Launched in 2022, the app facilitates easier monitoring of shipments for MICT customers. Users can create watchlists in the app for vessels, trucks and containers, and subscribe to status notification to receive timely updates via email or SMS.

“The ICTSI App provides users with 24/7, real-time information on their cargo that can lead to more accurate and timely logistics planning. With its transparency features, the app can help our customers can make better business decisions,” said Lozano.

Aside from the MICT, Laguna Inland Container Terminal, NorthPort, Subic Bay International Terminals, and Mindanao Container Terminal are also covered by the ICTSI App. Plans are underway to include other ICTSI terminals outside the Philippines.

These initiatives form part of MICT’s steadfast commitment to its role as the country’s trade window to the world. ICTSI’s flagship operation will continue to investment in technology to ensure seamless cargo movement, transparent processes and streamlined customer experience, paving the way for a more globally competitive port and efficient local supply chain.

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