As a company with customers around the world, the pandemic affected Hauni in unusual ways. Looking back over the past 18 months, what were the biggest challenges and how did Hauni overcome them?
Jürgen Heller: Like many other companies, we were completely unprepared for the impact and scale of the pandemic. However, the technological foundations we have laid over recent years, coupled with the willingness of our employees, customers and suppliers to break new ground, allowed us to adapt to the new conditions very quickly. Through the Körber Group’s COVID-19 Response Team, we decided and implemented a plan of action very quickly. This included switching from office workplaces to home working spaces as well as other measuresto ensure the safety of our employees. One of the most difficult tasks we faced was keeping our technical customer service up and running. As a company, and as individual employees, we had to implement country- and customer-specific regulations while at the same time ensuring the highest level of safety. After receiving feedback from our customers, we can now proudly say that our colleagues implemented the action plan very successfully.
How has the relationship with customers changed as a result of the pandemic, and how did you manage to maintain the usual level of service even in this exceptional situation?
Heller: Like Hauni, most customers have also switched to mobile working, and face-to-face meetings with customers were immediately rescheduled as online meetings. So, we have benefited from our long-standing and trusting customer relationships as well as from our worldwide network of sales and service branches. There were one or two delays in completing customer projects. Quarantine restrictions made it more difficult to ship spare parts and for service technicians to travel. However, the pandemic had only a limited impact on our business.
Hauni has recently made considerable efforts to expand its digital products and services. Do you believe the events of the past year have confirmed the effectiveness of this strategy, and what are your plans for the near future?
Heller: We have been digitizing our processes for many years. Examples of this include our myPORTAL customer portal and end-to-end solutions in the spare parts business via e-commerce or VMI. We have also been intensively expanding our range of remote solutions that support customers in training, troubleshooting and installing our machines and systems. Without exception, the feedback from our customers has been positive. Naturally, this encourages us to continue working in this direction. Because one thing is certain: new working environments for our teams, the further reinforcement of our global sales and service branches and the expansion of digital solutions offer us the opportunity to further enhance our customer relationships.
Let’s dare to look into the future! How do you envision Hauni‘s services being delivered in five years – will they be provided digitally or in person?
Heller: The pandemic has shown that we can change some of our traditional working patterns. Indeed, this can even help us to become more efficient and cost-effective in some areas as a result. Like the other members of my global team, I will certainly be travelling less frequently and having more online meetings with clients and colleagues around the world. However, as personal relationships with our clients are essential for various reasons, including the development of our teams, our future strategy will be based on both in-person and online meetings – not one or the other.
Our customers are seeking to streamline and automate processes through digital transformation and ensure predictability, transparency and productivity throughout the life cycle of their products. The aim is to create the optimal network of processes, machines and people. We believe our services and digital solutions can make an important contribution here. At this point, let me share our vision: we will only be able to achieve this with a network of partners. To generate the greatest possible benefit for our customers, our top priority is to further expand this network with the other Business Areas of Körber AG, our customers’ material suppliers, and external consulting and software providers. Our vision is that in five years‘ time we will be digitally networked with all our customers’ plants so that we can respond to faults anytime, anywhere in the factory, and initiate continuous improvements as well as proactive measures. We will be helping our customers to continuously increase their productivity and flexibility as they work towards creating an autonomous factory. Here, too, we are building on a successful blend of digital solutions and expert knowledge.
In 2020, Hauni achieved a very good NPS (Net Promoter Score) – to what do you attribute this success?
Heller: We have to earn the NPS anew with every delivery. I’m personally very happy that our customers evaluate our performance so positively and that we are continuing to improve. During the challenging past few months, we have done everything in our power to provide our customers with the best possible support through our deliveries and services. Travel restrictions and problems in delivery processes prevented us from working as usual. However, by taking a proactive approach we have found solutions together – even in crisis situations – and this has had a positive effect on our NPS as well. This also encourages us to continue on the course we have set, putting customer needs at the heart of everything we do.