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Survey prompts revamp pf Schneider`s UK operation

01 March, 2004

Survey prompts revamp of Schneider`s UK operation

Schneider Electric is revamping its Industrial Systems and Solutions group in the UK after customer research revealed that the company was not giving them what they needed. As part of the reorganisation, specialist roles, such as drives sales engineers, are disappearing, to be replaced by "solutions engineers" with a wider remit.

"Customer feedback showed that, in some areas, our skills mix and approach were below the optimum we would wish to achieve," explains the group`s director, David Nicholl, "so we have reshaped our organisation. By making these changes, we will continue to grow our market share while, at the same time, improving customer satisfaction."

Nicholl concedes that, initially, the most visible effect of the changes is the loss of several specialist sales roles, but adds that this does not represent a change of commitment to particular products or ranges. He reports that three of the six drives specialists that used to work for Schneider have now left.

"Essentially what we`ve done, is to invest more in those application, sales and marketing resources which are most appropriate to our customers` needs," he says.

Schneider`s survey of its customers revealed that they fell into two broad camps: those who already know what they want (dubbed "transactional" customers); and those who need advice on solving problems (called "consultative"). The new structure is based on meeting the different needs of these two groups.

Under Schneider`s previous structure, "highly skilled people were selling in a transactional manner," Nicholl reports. "Anyone can sell on price."

To serve its transactional customers, Schneider is setting up regional sales teams and a telephone-based customer contact operation, staffed by less skilled personnel. For the consultative customers, it has created teams dedicated to sectors such as the water, building and rail industries, who will offer packages drawn from Schneider`s wide portfolio.

Another element of the restructuring is the creation of a global alliance of systems integrators. Before the SIs are allowed to join, they will be scrutinised carefully on technical and commercial criteria. In return, Schneider says that it will not compete directly with them.

Nicholl reports that the changes will not have much effect on the number of people working for Schneider, but staff costs will be reduced by using less skilled staff to deal with the transactional customers.




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