In a distinguished career in engineering services, Thomas Radau has seen a lot of change. The biggest, however, has been industry’s attitude towards the customer.
Author | Copperberg
No longer just the end point in a supply and process chain, manufacturers increasingly see customers as long-term partners.
“There’s been a revolution in thought,” says Radau, service manager for German packaging and strap-making firm Titan. “In the past, the customer was paid lip service to and customer-focus was more an attitude than a practice. But now it’s key to our business.”
It’s no longer enough simply to offer customers a product, Radau says.
“You have to be very focused to say ‘am I understanding you correctly, this is the problem, that’s where I can help you’.”
Radau began his career as a service technician and electronics expert, and was posted in various locations around the world. He gained an up-close understanding of the importance of aftermarket service provision while working within the compressed air and gas purification industry, where the smooth running of equipment and minimisation of downtime are critical.
He later moved to DEUTZ, a manufacturer of industrial diesel engines before joining Titan in 2015.
In an engrossing presentation at Aftermarket 2018, Radau stressed the importance of customer focus by personalising his customer base to an idealised character called “Paul”.
“You have to think forward, and ask how do I help Paul meet his projects,” Radau told the delegates in Berlin. “If what we do doesn’t add value to Paul, then it’s useless.”
In an increasingly competitive world, it’s important for companies to put aftermarket services at the forefront because that wins customer loyalty and satisfaction, Radua argues.
“It’s now more difficult to sell things because everybody wants to sell products – it’s difficult to get customers’ attention,” Radau adds. “We must now do things where in the past the customer had to do it themselves.”
While Radau jokes that aftermarket service is like a social service, he believes he is in the business of making life better for his customers.
“We release them from the monkey work – that’s what the product as a service is all about,” he says animatedly. “It’s a lifestyle pitch.”
“In today’s life – everybody has more and more responsibility and everybody is more and more involved in lots of things, so if we are able to ease their life and save them time and energy, they’re able to do their work better and easier.”