Kris Oldland, Editor-in-Chief, Field Service News talks to Ulrika Lindberg, Vice President, Global Service at Alfa Laval AB following on from her keynote presentation at the Spring Servitization Conference, about why having a customer-centric strategy is key to developing advanced services…
One thing stood out very clearly when Ulrika Lindberg, Vice President, Global Service at Alfa Laval AB posted up her organisations mission statement during her presentation at the Spring Servitization Conference, hosted by Copenhagen Business School and the Advanced Services Group, part of Aston University in the UK, that was that even within this small, yet carefully crafted sentence which captures Alfa Laval’s corporate identity, it is clear the value they place on their customers.
On the surface, it certainly seemed indicative of an organisation that already had a clear Outside-In philosophy with regards to how they view their relationship with their customers.
Against a backdrop of a conference where advanced services are the sole talking point, I was keen to see just how important Lindberg and her colleagues at Alfa Laval believe such a mindset is when seeking to establish service as a core strategy within an organisation.
“How important is it? Well it’s in our DNA,” begins Lindberg.
Whilst we have a wide range of products, we have an even wider range of industries that we serve and we would never be able to do that successfully unless we understood our customers’ needs
“We need to understand how our products can benefit an industry and our customers’ within that industry – and if we don’t have that understanding then we wouldn’t be successful. That is how our whole company has grown, by actually finding where our products could benefit certain industries and how.”
“Some of our products, although customised are not that unique, but one of the things we’ve been able to be successful at is tailoring those to a certain customer or a certain industry.”
It is this industry knowledge, largely fed by a desire to get close to their customers and understand the challenges that they face that has become an intrinsic part of how Alfa Laval approach growth and development – and this is something that ultimately builds upon itself over time.
“The more critical it becomes for us to understand the needs of the sector, the bigger the industry becomes to us and then the further knowledge and insights we develop – which embeds us even further into the industry and into our customer’s processes,” Lindberg explains.
Of course, operating across such a wide array of vertical sectors means that Alfa Laval have to establish a flexible approach to their service offerings as what is good for the goose is not always good for the gander. This is something that becomes particularly prescient when we look at servitization.
One of the big discussions across the conference and beyond is whether there is a need for either a customer pull or a market in decline and in need of disruption for a company to successfully introduce advanced services.
We all see that data is going to be hugely important in the future and we need to build our services around that but I think that we have a lot of work to do to build on that
“I think certain industries are more advanced and it is easier in those. Equally some geographies are more advanced and it is easier there also. Personally, I would say the geography dimension might influence more whether a company is able to introduce advanced services.”
“I think across the globe, in terms of data and analysing data, there is a big interest but I still think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the complexity this is going to drive in terms of who is going to look at the data and what kind of advice are they going to be delivering?”
“If we look at predictive maintenance who is going to be calling the customer and saying the service is required? If we need to go in and stop the machine what power do we have to do this in a critical environment for the customers where that maintenance might have significant consequences for the customer.”
“I think we all see that data is going to be hugely important in the future and we need to build our services around that but I think that we have a lot of work to do to build on that. The appetite for this is big all around the globe, but the most critical question is ‘are we ready?’ That is the question I would suggest most companies need to be asking themselves.”
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