CN to simplify customer transactions, improve revenue quality

by Canadian Shipper

Canadian National says it is harnessing its advanced information technology systems to make it easier for customers to do business with CN and to generate more profitable revenues, according to CN President and Chief Executive Officer Paul M. Tellier.

CN’s Service Reliability Strategy (SRS), which allows CN to track and trace shipments and give customers precise information about the status and arrival time of their freight, was also key to the development of CN’s scheduled railway service plan. The plan permits CN to make specific transit commitments for individual shipments, measured in hours, not days. On-time delivery results today exceed 90 per cent, says the company.

“With scheduled service, CN now has a foundation to simplify its business procedures. And we’re going to use electronic business to make it easier for customers to do business with us,” says Tellier.

Internet applications on the CN web site,, make rail transactions easier to do, says the company. Shippers can now use the site to calculate the transit time from any origin to any destination on the CN network; order the right equipment for the job, up to six months in advance; create and transmit bills of lading; automatically receive car location messages; and access CN’s eBill program to view, pay or dispute invoices on-line.With eBill, invoice information is easier for customers to understand and is delivered to them quickly, usually the next day. eBill’s electronic dispute resolution feature can assist in resolving a dispute over an invoice in 48 hours, says CN.

In the first nine months of operation, more than 300 shippers, representing almost 30 per cent of CN’s business by annual revenue, have signed up for the service.

Tellier said the next challenge is to use information technology to help increase revenues.

“This has been difficult in the past. The fixed costs of maintaining a rail infrastructure are so high that railways have traditionally locked into long-term, fixed price contracts over time. But with scheduled service, we’re in a new game. We can be much more precise about when we can deliver. We can provide a very precise, highly valued service and charge an optimum price for that service. Not only does information technology give us the tool for providing the service. It enables us to gather and sort the information required to price that service on the market,” he says.

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