Atlas Copco

Service: so much more than merely technical competence

Atlas Copco's Compressor Technique business area provides industrial compressors, vacuum solutions, gas and process compressors and expanders, air and gas treatment equipment and air management systems. The business area has a global service network and innovates for sustainable productivity in the manufacturing, oil and gas, and process industries.

Peter Leemans, Vice-President Competence Development & Communications at Atlas Copco Compressor Technique Services (CTS) Division is responsible for ensuring staff at the division have the right knowledge and skills they need to deliver outstanding service to customers every day. This includes technical training for the field service technicians, as well as organisational training for the service planners and sales training for the sales staff. Furthermore, each customer centre in the world has a local management team with strategic training needs to better manage the total service delivery.

A long experience of learning with Vlerick

While the official ‘CTS Master Class’ relationship with Vlerick Business School only started in 2006, Atlas Copco already has extensive experience of Vlerick, as many of the middle managers at Atlas Copco Airpower had followed either regular management courses or customised training at the school. From the beginning, it was clear that Vlerick’s practical and hands-on approach fitted the needs of the company very well.

When this partnership started, the service business was mainly re-active with high focus on technical support to end customers. This meant there was virtually no pro-active selling of advanced services to customers and initiatives made to save energy costs or increase customers machine uptime were limited to a few countries. With this in mind, Atlas Copco wanted a partner who could help them transform from a mainly product-driven company into a more service-oriented organisation.

Hands on and practical

The learning journey itself starts by reminding managers what good service means, as well as covering basic service management techniques. As the background of many service managers is often technical, a domain that Atlas Copco themselves manage, the main thrust of the programme is marketing, finance and how to run a service organisation in an efficient way.

Peter Leemans outlines how the format of the programme has evolved. “The first participants (in 2006) learned to better understand their local market position and to create a detailed service business development plan. Over the years however, Atlas Copco has moved up the service ladder and now the challenges are more related to how we should handle advanced services in an efficient way.”

“Over the years, the school has gained a real understanding of the Atlas Copco business and the learning that is required. As a result the entire learning journey has evolved from training the higher-level management to working with the many managers coming from the level below. This is in part, a testament to the impact the Vlerick education has had at our company as so many in the class already have a very good understanding of what service is, and what the service delivery system should do.”

Vlerick has delivered an exciting learning journey for the Atlas Copco CTS Master Class with just the right mix of academic rigour, business cases, practical samples and simulation games.

Positive impact on financial results

Peter Leemans confirms, “There is no doubt that the CTS Master Class has had an impact on our business growth and financial results. Besides the fact that our Customer Satisfaction levels are excellent, we have also significantly grown our service revenue while making service operations far more efficient. From our perspective, it is clear that we have raised the understanding of the dynamics and models in the service business.”

“The practical Vlerick approach with case studies makes the situation very recognisable for our staff and creates a better learning experience for everyone. For example, the ServiceSim computer game featuring the combination of service and spare parts together quickly lets our staff see the impact of their decisions on the revenue and profitability of the organisation, and enables them to integrate all the key learnings in a safe simulation environment.”

A marked evolution at Atlas Copco

As Professor Deva Rangarajan confirms, “Over the 10 years we have been running the programme, there has been a huge evolution in the development of the service business at Atlas Copco. Whereas in the beginning we had to explain what the concept was and why should we do it, today we talk about how we do it and how we get profit out of it.”

An international programme from the very start, the Atlas Copco CTS Master Class has created a space for people at Atlas Copco to share their experiences and create cross learning amongst the participants.

The last word goes to Peter, “It is thanks to Vlerick that our staff realises they each have similar challenges and can reach out to each other for help and advice. In short, we are stronger when we learn together.”

It’s clear to me now that the customer is at the centre of everything. We have to recognise what our clients are facing and ensure that everyone in the organisation understands this so they can interact with the same mind set and message.
Mariska Mathieu, Business Line Manager, Atlas Copco Compressors Netherlands

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