The economic decline has affected the entire logistics sector, including many of our customers. We are nonetheless convinced that our strong brands and global reach will serve us well in the difficult times ahead. The Group spent 2008 solving key strategic issues and thus laying the foundation for future growth in our core competencies.
For our subsidiary, Deutsche Postbank AG, we have found a reliable partner for the future in Deutsche Bank. We also succeeded in establishing attractive conditions for the transaction despite the difficult market climate. In so doing, the Group has set a new course for the future. We will be shifting focus to our core competencies – mail, express and logistics – and gradually exiting the financial sector. Deutsche Post and Postbank will nonetheless continue to share retail outlets even beyond 2012.
Another decision of far-reaching consequence involved our express business in the United States, where we have initiated restructuring activities in order to reduce the losses there and alleviate risk for our Group. We will also be concentrating on our core competencies in this market: shipments to and from the US. We are confident that this is the best way for us to serve customers in the US, which continues to be an important market. This decision will also give our company room to move forward and attain profitable performance on a reliable basis. The restructuring will not affect the other DHL business units in the United States. We will continue to invest in these businesses in the future.
We take our responsibility to our customers’ needs, our employees, our investors and society very seriously. A vital part of this responsibility is ensuring that our operations management is geared towards profitable, sustained growth. To reach this goal, we have launched several Group-wide initiatives:
1. First choice for customers The better we know our customers’ needs, the better we are able to respond to them. For this reason, many of our business units have surveyed customers to find out how satisfied they are with our services. As part of our First Choice programme, we systematically evaluate the survey findings, which we use to improve specific aspects of our service quality. Every hour, we have more than one million interactions with customers – opportunity enough to give them a good impression of our services.
The success of this programme proves us right: All organisational units that have implemented these initiatives have demonstrably higher levels of customer satisfaction. In 2008, this resulted in additional Group revenues. Moreover, those business units operating under the DHL brand and Global Business Services succeeded in reducing their costs.