Karsten Malsch, Program Lead Digital, shares how we’re digitalizing our customer journey to connect with customers and anticipate their future needs.
Karsten, can you explain what is meant by the digital customer journey?
When we think of the ideal digital customer journey, we imagine a modern, seamless, future-proof digital customer experience that takes into account regional specifics.
In practice, this means understanding the needs of every customer so we can provide added value at every stage of their experience – from point-of-sale to after-sale support. This digital journey should be seamless and bespoke to the customer. Whatever their region, whatever their industry, we want them to be able to access the right solutions, at the right time, via the right channel.
And it’s not just about digital. While we want to constantly redesign and innovate customers’ experiences, we want to be available on a personal level too. These digital tools are designed to simplify and optimize the customer experience, so we have more face-to-face time where it matters.
What does digital transformation mean to you, and to the chemical industry at large?
Technological advances in the form of, for example, increased computing power or larger data generation and storage capacities have led to the digital transformation of businesses and processes.
For us, this means exploring new possibilities in production and processing that digitalization opens up. For example, we have already been experimenting with digitalization in production in areas such as digital process control technologies.
Now, we’re even able to predict properties of our production processes and optimize them accordingly – and that’s not just in our production at Covestro, but for our customers as well.
Digital transformation is also a crucial driver for innovation, which is an essential part of our DNA here at Covestro. We want to constantly come up with creative ideas that bring added value to our customers on every step of their journey.
Watch this video to understand more about our vision for a truly digital customer journey
How does digitalization reshape customer needs in the chemical industry?
Business-to-business (B2B) buying patterns are changing, driven by digital technologies alongside a new digital generation of workers. 71% of B2B buyers would switch suppliers for a better digital experience, and 73% of millennials are now involved in B2B purchase decision-making.
However, digital transformation isn’t exclusive to industry – it appears in all walks of life. New technologies connect people, machines and information in a way that changes how companies do business and how they connect with their customers.
Everyone demands speedier services, faster access to more information, a greater degree of personalization, and automation – why shouldn’t B2B customers expect the same?
How is Covestro responding to these needs through its initiatives?
We’ve carried out extensive research with customers across the value chain, including everyone from innovation managers to application engineers, purchasers and procurement managers. Using this research, we’ve mapped out their key needs and priorities and created dedicated teams to revamp our customer touchpoints so as to anticipate, meet and exceed customer expectations.
We also have a range of projects at Covestro including a new production information management system (PIM), the relaunch of our online webshop and an improved customer relations management system (CRM). On top of this, we’re working on a brand new multichannel platform due to go live in early 2019. This will offer customers a range of content, information and solutions, all in one place.
What’s the vision for the future of Covestro? Where does the company want to be in terms of digitalization in, let’s say, five years’ time?
Digitalization opens up many new opportunities, not least in terms of economic benefits. According to Accenture and the World Economic Forum, digitalization’s economic gains in the global chemical and materials industry are expected to reach $310-550 billion between 2016 and 2025. But it also opens up the possibility for new partnerships and new business models, as well as more efficient and sustainable processes.
Our Digital@Covestro program reflects our ambition to seize these opportunities and meet ever-changing trends not just in our own business operations and search for new business models but also in our contribution to a better customer experience. If customers’ needs are constantly changing, we want to redesign and innovate their experiences to reflect this. This is a never-ending journey for us and the next few years will see us hitting new milestones and bringing new ideas to the table for a customer experience that is truly in tune with the digital era.
- McKinsey, Digital McKinsey Perspectives on Digital – Discussion Document (for Covestro) Feb 2017
- Sacunas B2B Report Millenials March 2016