Scott Bergeron, chief executive of the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR), says companies need integrity, regard for the value of people, a commitment to technological innovation and an understanding of the value of customer service in order to be successful in tomorrow’s shipping industry.
Addressing the CMA Shipping 2016meeting in Stamford, Connecticut, Bergeron said, "The integrity of the Liberian Registry is tested regularly. It is usually easy to say 'Yes' to a client, because nobody wants to hear complaints or suffer the potential consequences of failing to agree to a request. The difficult part comes when you need to say 'No'.
In a live poll of the audience at the well-attended conference, a majority of shipping industry representatives indicated that integrity is routinely compromised in the name of financial gain. Bergeron encouraged the industry to do much better, outlining examples of where the Liberian Registry will not compromise on safety. These included not negotiating on minimum safe manning and not approving unacceptable risk. “When the customer proposes an unreasonable risk,” he said, “we need to have the confidence of our convictions."
Bergeron went on to stress the importance of companies being able to demonstrate consistently the high value they place on their people. In contrast, he noted that he was saddened to see how some seafarers are being treated during the current economic downturn. Bergeron said, "It is not uncommon that wage payments are delayed and crew changes are prolonged beyond reason. Even worse, there are an increasing number of cases of crew abandonment."
Bergeron also emphasised that technological awareness and the ability to provide firstclass customer service are essential to the success of any commercial organisation in the shipping industry. He said, "In many cases, the shipping industry can be slow to adopt technology, both ashore and afloat. Yet early and effective adoption is a critical element of commercial success.
"The Liberian flag is the most innovative in the business, with an ever-growing list of technology firsts to its name, including the implementation of the first online fee calculator and the first flag state mobile app. Liberia was also the first ship register to provide electronic certificates for vessels, with online verification through tracking and identification numbers. Our philosophy is to apply technology to meet challenges, improve efficiency, reduce expenses for clients, and improve the overall experience that our clients have in working with us.
"It took our competitors more than ten years to offer something similar to our online portal facilitating applications for seafarer documents, and most flags still do not have this ability. The benefits exceed all expectations, with some clients achieving savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced courier fees as a result of using this system."
On the subject of customer service, Bergeron told the CMA meeting, "The Liberian Registry listens to its clients, and what it hears has led to some of its greatest accomplishments, including the online application system and the registry’s extensive use of electronic certificates."
In conclusion, Bergeron defined the successful company of the future as one that applies technological innovation early and effectively, consistently places a high value on the people who make the company run, regards integrity as paramount, and always understands and tries to satisfy the needs of its customers.
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