This weeks blog is all about the customer. In our following interview, Klaus Hjorth is answering questions on the challenging service environment, the new Kontron service portfolio and how to give customer’s a great problem-solving-experience. Klaus Hjorth is Head of Global R&D Service and Maintenance department. He has more than twenty-nine years of professional experience in the telecommunication industry leading software/hardware development and technical service functions.
Kontron Blog: Surveys show that comprehensive services are playing an increasingly important role in the customer’s buying decision. Do you have an explanation for this trend?
Hjorth: Business managers always knew that when a customer has a problem, the experience of resolving the issue has a great impact on future buying decisions. But in our increasingly digital age, this effect has been amplified as social media and web review sites enable customer service experiences to be widely shared with the general public. But what has not change is the fact, that the customer expects to have a place where he can get his questions answered and issues solved, so to say a reliable support that is fast and competent. Due to the fast pace in today’s business where a quick time-to-market is a very important competitive advantage, it is also essential to have an extensive service portfolio to support the customer in the usage around products. It also comes – for example – from consulting firm Walker, who in their report “Customers 2020″ said that by 2020, customer satisfaction, more than price and product, will be the key brand differentiator.
Kontron Blog: What characterizes a good customer service?
Hjorth: The dictionary defines the word customer as “a person who buys goods or services, especially on a regular basis.” The word service, as used in this context, is defined “as an act of assistance or benefit to another or others.” But simply put, good customer service results in increased purchases while bad customer service drives customers to find alternatives. In detail, a good customer service must be fast, reliable and staffed with high qualified engineers that understand the customer’s needs and problems. The team must be committed to services and the correct attitude is very important.They must all be service minded.
Kontron Blog: So, let us have a look into the details of Kontron’s service portfolio: Which services are new and which have been improved?
Hjorth: We have now added a substantial list of Professional Service items that we didn’t offer in the past e.g. Board Bring-Up, Software Support, Test Support, Customer Trainings and many more. And we are also offering our customers an Extended Warranty (up to 3 additional years) to secure their investment. In addition to the above mentioned services we have introduced three different Service Level Agreements that go beyond the standard support that we have been providing in the past. The standard support will remain a free service offering from Kontron also in the future, but for those customers that require dedicated support and fix response times we have defined new service levels to meet their needs in the best possible way.
Kontron Blog: How does the customer benefits from the new concept?
Hjorth: First, the customer benefits from getting clear commitments to response times on reported issues. This is extremely important because interestingly, customer service experiences are judged more on the timeliness of the interaction than on the final outcome. Andalso when they use our Professional Service Team they will get a fix price and commitment on the delivery date. On top, all the services will be provided by highly skilled teams that are globally distributed, but centrally coordinated, Therefore they will – in the most cases – be in the same or at least very close to the time zone in which our customer resides. This contributes substantially to the improvement of the communication process.
Kontron Blog: Nowadays it’s all about the shortest possible time-to-market. How can you speed up the problem-solving process?
Hjorth: We now have a global approach in place where all support engineers see all issues and can therefore help solving an issue whenever it is needed. The new approach is that we work with the sun, but still the support teams are centrally managed and coordinated.
Kontron Blog: Can you tell us about a real-life example?
Hjorth: Sure, there are plenty of these. For example, a critical issue was reported to the service team in Germany already in the morning, but unfortunately the team was not able to solve it within the same day and therefore they transferred the further investigation and debugging to one of the teams in North America. During the European night the problem was identified by the North American Team and solved, so the customer had his issue fixed when he got into the office in the morning.
Kontron Blog: A good service is not for free. How does the new payment model look like? Will the customers be faced with higher prices for their products?
Hjorth: No, the prices for the products stay the same. For Professional Services the pricing is “a la carte”, which means it is based on the effort. For Service Level Agreements we are asking very moderate prices and the price is based on the revenue a customer is generating with a product/solution. The Extended Warranty pricing is a fix percentage of the product price that the customer pays for the product.
Kontron Blog: Mr. Hjorth, thank you very much for the interview!