Story from the Aftermarket Business Platform 2014

Glimpses of a 3-day conference

by Regina Roos, Business Partnership Development, BKS Stromschienen AG

Taking part at the Aftermarket Business Platform in Amsterdam was a remarkable milestone for the year. There are a lot of Service Concepts and Processes, Maintenance Models, Databases and online tools written. The difference at the conference was that there was a possibility silently and actively to benchmark “best practice “and share experiences with industry. It gets more and more visible that Service is not Industry specific when it comes to processes and tools, it is more about “how to implement it in my own organisation”. This conference was populated with a great profile of people. Field experienced managers mixed with Executive Management Knowledge and some critical observers created a valuable audience for the event

The 15 minutes meetings in the afternoon with personal selected participants were extremely useful. Business leads could be developed and now followed up in structured steps. But this was only one element of the event which paid off the participation.

When asking one participant why he turned up, his story was impressive to me. He was from Alstom and he shared his decision to join with me based on the following facts: a marketing lady called him, but it was not convenient to talk- So he asked for a call the next morning at 7.00 am when he would drive to work. Meanwhile he checked in the office, if someone else got a call. Indeed, the marketing lady called the entire service team of him. What a great job, she did her homework without being demanding. The following morning she called the manager again, sharp at 7.00am. Hence, she listened and kept her commitment. And now the manager felt convinced that attending the event would be a wise decision. Great compliment to the organisation committee.

The warming up session on the first evening with Malcolm Larri, from “brave “confirmed again that we as managers cannot be often enough reminded how important it is that working together in a team is a process with clear roles and responsibilities and that team members have to be carefully selected case by case so that the outcome will be productive and sustainable. Let me share my experience of the Spaghetti Tower Building on the first evening. It looked not only to me, but also the others like “ahh one of the games which we have done many time and we know what to do”. Good, we had fun, we did not fight, but the “little boys’ desire of building a tower started”. No conversation about strategy and planning, straight to the implementation phase. – Some frustration at the end, as the Spaghetti tower was tall, but not stable. The reflection of Malcolm of the fact that you need leader, analyst, planner and implementers in team got proven again. His conclusion with giving people hats with their temporary roles could change output and behaviour was a message which maintains as a reflection for the day to day life in the future. It was surely an interesting icebreaker for the event.

However, we should not forget a second element of differentiation at the After Market Conference, the Opera Singer. Yes, you would expect such a voice to come up in the evening entertainment program, but to give him the first debut just after lunch before the roundtable meetings. It created a highlight and set a mood of importance of After Market. Service is power in business and industry. I liked this way of creating attention of the audience.

As the location was suiting the networking concept of the event, there was always sufficient space for even on the spot organised breakout sessions.

When speaking with a participant from ABB , it was great to see that he picked up a lead in an area which you would not expect in the first instance at this conference, the dairy business, namely selling robots and servicing robots for milking. What a great sample of developing new leads. And this just because “both companies did not know each other’s product portfolios” and possible synergies.

I myself made a great contact with Thomas Radau, Head of Business Team Service, Deutz AG. Talking to him about the KPIs set up with the dealers, but also for the market was a good reflection topic. And again here a trend was visible, that service KPIs are not industry specific, but process and outcome related. However, if the KPIs are not well set and measured, the growth program is limited. Additionally, I liked the elements of customer satisfaction and the necessary measures taken in service to turn the comments to growth elements.

However, there had been also various occasions where I was approached for consulting advice. I felt proud and good at this moment. As this event is not about “how good we are“, but how we can support others to achieve similar success or more. But this requires also the hard step of asking a question. And I like the conconcept of “Just ask “without asking there is no chance to learn and improve. There is no stupid question at any time, there is only an inappropriate way of the receiver to respond to it. More questions, are more opportunities to learn.

Would I attend the conference again – Straight forward answer is YES. The concept is well designed. The audience is of good quality and many repeat participants. It is a good combination of mega companies and midsize companies touched up with some entrepreneurs. The presence is global, but core of the participants is from Europe. Well marketed and presented event. Also, what was nice to see a good balance of diversity in gender at the event.