Direct communication and active, one-on-one engagement with customers is the key to building trust in our role as partner and advisor. Our goal is to anticipate changing customer requirements and dynamically adapt our service offering to a constantly evolving business environment.
We need to truly understand our customers’ needs in order to develop services that match those needs. This basic belief informs all of our actions and dealings, helping to strengthen our long-term partnerships and unlock new and promising business opportunities.
No voice unheard
The Voice of the Customer platform has been successfully rolled out to fifteen countries around the globe: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, India, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the UK.
At a Glance
Customer Experience – listen, learn, live
Linde’s Voice of the Customer (VOC) platform gives customers numerous touchpoints beyond the annual Customer Experience (CX) survey.
Touchpoints along the customer journey
Typical touchpoints for a cylinder customer
- Build customer loyalty
- Strengthen image
- Motivate employees
For the customer
- Easier, more direct interaction with Linde
- Faster service
- Optimised experience overall
Insights collectively gained from customer engagement initiatives flowed into 118 optimisation projects in 2015. The following is just one example:
OPTIMISATION PROJECT KICKED OFF IN CHINA
CUSTOMERS USE THE NEW SERVICE
TRUCKS ARE NETWORKED
FOR CUSTOMERS TO CHECK DELIVERY STATUS
DROP IN NUMBER OF QUERIES ON DELIVERY STATUS
Listening to the customer: a virtue that companies often preach but seldom practise. Linde is striving to make the voice of every single customer heard. Not only does this strengthen business relationships, the resulting dialogue helps Linde make targeted improvements to products, processes and services. Which is why the company is intensifying its efforts in this area and aiming for even greater customer engagement around the world.
Listen and learn – so the mantra goes. It follows then, that the more we listen the more we learn. Learning from customers is only possible if they can engage directly and easily. Moreover, the loop must be closed: the insights collectively gained from customer engagement must be directly channelled into the right projects, strategies and processes. Intensifying dialogue between Linde and customers therefore has been and continues to be the aim of the company-wide Customer Experience (CX) programme.
The CX programme wants to ensure that all voices are heard. In the Gases Division, for example, cylinder customers may not have the same natural touchpoints as a client with an on-site gas production plant. Yet they contribute just as much to revenue. The CX programme will make it just as easy for this base of around two million cylinder customers to reach Linde.
An annual survey run by Linde in twelve key markets provides the basis for a deeper understanding of customer needs. The results of this customer engagement can drive strategy in a top-down manner. But that’s not all. Complementing this, the CX programme provides mechanisms to encourage dialogue at a transactional level. This follows a bottom-up approach, led by continuous customer engagement with frontline employees.
A key tool in this initiative is the Voice of the Customer platform. This increases the number of channels and touchpoints customers can use to reach Linde. At each stage in the customer journey – be it cylinder deliveries, collections, telephone orders, invoicing or in-shop purchases – they have the opportunity to provide feedback. A digital dashboard bundles customer comments and suggestions in real time. Urgent issues are processed immediately and queries are forwarded to the appropriate departments.
Linde began rolling out this platform internationally in 2015, and 2016 will see additional countries hooking up. Information gathered in this way regularly flows into the 120 or so optimisation projects currently underway in response to customer feedback. The three main focus areas for Linde at present are query management, ease of contacting Linde and delivery.
In China, for example, Linde got closer to its customers by launching the company’s first-ever delivery tracking service. The e-notification app service keeps customers informed of their delivery status. It updates arrival times and provides a delivery notice one hour before delivery – via phone, text messaging or WeChat, a Chinese smartphone chat application.
Increasing customer touchpoints is, however, not the only success factor behind vibrant and productive customer engagement. It is also important to embed customer engagement deep within a company’s culture. Which is why the CX initiative includes a variety of measures to ensure that all Linde employees, irrespective of individual roles, experience customer interaction first hand. One example is the UK’s Customer Experience Month. It included a Thank You campaign where 300,000 customers were invited to Linde and personally thanked by employees. Also in the UK, the “buddy” programme sees non-customer-facing employees buddied up with frontline employees for a day. In India, the CX Gold Star award is given to employees who submit the best ideas for improving customer experience.
The Customer Experience programme will continue into 2016 with numerous initiatives to inspire and energise customer dialogue – all with the aim of ensuring that no voice goes unheard.
Culture promoting customer engagement
le Customer Services
Linde Engineering’s Customer Services (CS) team is all about one-on-one customer engagement. The team’s work reaches deep within the companies it serves, supporting plant modifications, revamps and, more recently, even plant relocations. This is probably the most challenging undertaking in helping customers respond to changing market dynamics. The CS department is firmly on the path to success, doubling order volume every year since 2013.
Helping patients become more independent
Beds in British hospitals are scarce – the nation’s public healthcare facilities have been chronically overstretched for many years now. Care at home is a potential answer to this escalating bed crisis. The National Health Service (NHS) relies on private contractors – such as BOC, UK member of The Linde Group – to deliver homecare services. BOC’s telehealth offering is much more than an innovative care model. Digital networking across patients, doctors and nursing staff not only relieves the NHS, it also increases patient autonomy. This means that BOC’s offering has both a social and economic dimension, since caring for patients is extremely time-intensive and associated with very high costs for family members and their employers. Against the backdrop of ageing populations in industrialised countries, healthcare has now become a major economic factor.
Facts & figures
Close to the customer – the world over
Customer Experience activities
In 2013, there were 2.8 hospital beds per thousand people in the United Kingdom – one of the lowest rates of any OECD member. By contrast, the equivalent rate for Germany was 8.3. And even this peak figure within Europe was topped by Korea (11.0) and Japan (13.3).
There are currently more than 11.4 million UK citizens over the age of 65. By 2050, this share of the population will rise sharply to exceed the 19-million mark.