INSIGHTS & IDEAS >> Operational Excellence / Delivering Value

Optimal operations are vital to delivering value to customers

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My career in the rail industry began when I was fresh out of college. I started working for a large operating lessor in the regulatory department, where I learned in-depth about railcar compliance. Then I moved into the tank car fleet management side and started working with repair shops, where I gained valuable insights from the repair customer’s perspective. This is the lens I’m looking through when I assess our operations and customer journey experience now at CF Rail Services, in my new role as director of sales & marketing. 

First and foremost, it was the people at CF Rail that drew me in – James Allen and Erick Spicher – but a close second was the strength of its operations. In my opinion, if you get those two things right, it makes my job easier and more fun. Not to mention, the Sasser culture exceeded my expectations with their values and how they care so much about their people and their customers. 

Because I was on the other side for so long, I know what most customers are looking for – that’s the advantage I bring to this role at CF Rail. Although customers are all different, I can see the experience through their eyes and quantify what matters to them.

Keystone Operating Model 

Credit for the impressive operations at CF Rail starts at the top with senior management for recognizing the importance of innovation and for making the investment in continuous improvement. Our proprietary Keystone Operating Model and the information system that supports it allow us to stay organized in one management tool. By integrating our advanced web-based application and technologies with key operational processes, we are able to improve our internal processes with a real-time, data-rich environment. This continuous improvement of our internal processes translates into higher quality and faster turn times and value we deliver to our customers. 

The Keystone Operating Model gives visibility to everyone internally on any level of data – this makes communicating with customers and managing their expectations around the status of their railcars easier. It’s for our own good and for the good of customer service – the transparency keeps everyone at the shop level accountable for each of their tasks related to a repair job. And it helps our customers get the best work and the fastest turn times available from a repair shop. 

Understanding the importance of the customer journey 

These days, leadership teams at successful companies understand that they are in the customer-experience business – how you serve your customers is as important as what you deliver. Developing a better understanding of our customers’ journey has been a big part of the ongoing work we’ve been doing internally in order to build out process improvements around customer needs. Our Keystone Operating Model and supporting technology enable us to execute on this throughout the customer journey. 

We’re not trying to be everything to everyone – we’ve made strategic choices based on knowing what we are good at. We specialize in certain car types and we aim to provide the best overall experience for those customers. Our core customer base loves working with us – we’re easy to work with and consistent. They know that if they are sending a car to us, the quality will be top notch and it will be back in service in no time!

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