Strengthening the sustainable development criteria
In our customer surveys
Published on August 26, 2021
Since the launch of Air Liquide’s Voice of the Customer (VoC) platform in 2017, many of our entities have collected customer feedback on our environmental performance. In line with our recently announced sustainable development objectives, the Group now plans to go one step further, covering all activities and geographical areas, while enlarging the scope of the questions to new topics, such as ethics and sustainable development. Susanne Hart, Business Developer, Large Industries, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and Thomas Münter, Customer Experience Manager Germany and CX Coordinator at Air Liquide’s Industrial Merchant Central Europe Cluster, answer our questions.
Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
Susanne Hart: I work as a Large Industries Business Developer for German, Austrian and Swiss customers, which means that in addition to being the commercial contact, I lead negotiations with customers. I also coordinate customer experience initiatives for the Large Industries business line across our Central Europe cluster. This includes, for example, the creation of our customer experience roadmap and annual customer satisfaction survey.
Thomas Münter: I'm responsible for customer experience in the Industrial Merchant business line in Germany and coordinate the Customer Experience program for the IM Central Europe cluster. My role includes defining the customer experience strategy, gathering customer feedback by preparing and analyzing customer surveys, and supporting our teams by developing improvement actions based on the results obtained. In addition, we are permanently working on improving our customer-centric culture – for example, by organizing training and workshops and providing support to different departments within the organization. This role was created in 2016 with the launch of the NEOS strategic plan. My previous experience in various positions in our Industrial Merchant business line before is very helpful for understanding the needs of customers and employees alike.
What does customer experience mean to you and how important is it?
TM: Customer experience is one of the most important topics in the company. It’s all about how our customers feel about doing business with us. Customers compare their experience with their expectations, so it’s extremely important to not only meet expectations but exceed them on a continuous basis. Only when customers receive an excellent experience in every interaction they have with us will they happily continue to work with Air Liquide and enable us to achieve our goals.
How do you measure the customer experience?
SH: Since 2017, the Group has been heading towards a customer-centric transformation with the implementation of the “Voice of the Customer” (VoC) platform. This helps us detect any gaps between customers’ expectations and their current experience. Moreover, this tool helps us track, follow and improve over time all our key metrics related to satisfaction and loyalty. All year round, each Air Liquide entity invites customers to give feedback digitally on around 20 different topics related to the most important touchpoints (e.g., placing an order, availability of supply, raising a claim, interacting with their account manager, etc.) and key drivers (safety, reliability, responsiveness, etc.). All this feedback is collected through the VoC platform and consolidated to obtain the specific level of satisfaction for each touchpoint or driver, along with our Net Promoter Score®. With Air Liquide’s new commitment to sustainable development objectives, we believe we now need to go one step further.
What new criteria are included in your annual customer satisfaction surveys?
SH: Starting from the second half of 2021, Air Liquide will include a specific sustainable development question for each business line. For the Large Industries business line, for example, the question is, “How satisfied are you with the contribution of Air Liquide to meet your sustainability objectives (e.g., reducing your environmental footprint, CO2 emissions and improving energy efficiency)?” For the home healthcare activity, it’s, “How satisfied are you with how Air Liquide contributes to ethical business conduct, protecting your safety and health?”
Why is this specific feedback important?
SH: By improving the customer experience, we want to create an emotional bond between Air Liquide and our customers. These specific questions will allow us to measure, track and enhance our performance over time as a responsible business. The objective is to identify possible improvements to the customer experience that could range from small pain points that are easily fixed to more structural concerns. For example, we used the insights from one customer to better adapt to their needs and expectations during our last contract negotiation. In the following year’s survey, several negative factors turned into positive ones.
What kind of tangible improvements can customers expect?
TM: Our customers are looking for specific solutions to help them achieve their sustainability goals, especially reducing their carbon footprint through their processes and materials. Continually listening to our customers helps us meet or exceed their expectations. In the Industrial Merchant business line, we’ve been asking our customers questions related to the environment for years. As a result of their answers and our discussions with interested companies, we’ve developed the Eco Chiller, a solution for saving energy and reducing costs by combining heating and cooling at the customer site.
How will Air Liquide benefit? And what about customers?
TM: One big goal that unites us all is protecting the planet. What could be better motivation? We want to create value for our customers and Air Liquide alike: ideally, our solutions will be a win-win for both parties. For example, our customers may achieve reductions in CO2 emissions and tax savings, while we sell new or superior products like our Eco Origin bulk offer. The best situation is one where we can do good environmentally and economically.
In 2017, Air Liquide set up the " Voice of the Customer'' digital platform to collect and analyze customer reviews in real time worldwide and react immediately in case of dissatisfaction. This platform allows each Air Liquide entity to measure customer satisfaction and share feedback in a spirit of continuous improvement and transparency. Feedback from over 150,000 customers has already been submitted through the platform and is available in more than 60 countries.