Bekaert has always believed in customer collaboration and co-creation as drivers of sustainable partnerships and customer satisfaction. However, we want to do better and become a truly customer-centric organization. This strategy is about gaining insight into what value means to our customers and acting on it. It is about continuously prioritizing our customers in whatever we do, at all levels and wherever in the world.
In 2018, we continued to improve our customer service models. It is one of the tangible impacts of the Bekaert Customer Excellence (BCE) transformation program and helps us to obtain better customer insight and to use more enhanced tools.
Bekaert completed a Net Promotor Score (NPS) Survey across all businesses and on a global scale. In 2017, the first customer group covered 50% of Bekaert’s Top 80% revenue customers. In May 2018, the remaining 50% were asked to participate. It was the first time that Bekaert organized a global, full scope NPS survey.
The combined score from both phases was 49, much higher than the average for international B2B manufacturing companies. The survey gauged the loyalty of customer relationships by measuring the likelihood that customers would recommend Bekaert to other companies, colleagues or business partners. ICMA Group, an independent market research agency, handled the coordination and analysis of the survey.
The Net Promotor Scores for international B2B manufacturing companies usually average 20 to 30. Bekaert was very pleased with the score of 49. Furthermore, the 28% response rate, compared to a typical benchmark of 10% to 15% for online surveys, reflects the high level of commitment of our customers to work closely together as business partners.
The more important results for Bekaert are those for each business activity and region, from which we can learn to better understand and improve customer relations and excellence. A new NPS survey is planned for 2019.
Growing customer insight is not only relevant to our marketing & sales or business development teams. Bekaert organizes a Customer Week every year in various locations around the world. Through information sessions, workshops and customer visits, employees from all departments learned about who our customers are and how we can best serve them.
In 2018, we further expanded the concept geographically. Bekaert Wire Indonesia, for instance, organized the event for the first time. Four key customers came to display the products they manufacture with Bekaert steel wire and shared information on what they find important in terms of quality and service. Meeting customers in person and learning more about their processes, products and markets, made the event a true eye-opener to our employees.
Continuously changing trade policy and ever higher trade barriers in 2018 have pushed the limits of what we can offer in terms of the best supply solutions for our customers in the US. As a truly global player, Bekaert worked out alternative sourcing options to serve customers in the best way possible. US tire customers in particular, appreciated the flexibility and transparency Bekaert offered in helping to reduce the impact on their business performance and continuity. Our customers also engaged in our efforts to file for exclusions on quotas and tariffs. After a process of about one year, the US Government decided, in early February 2019, to grant quarterly exclusions for steel wire rod types that are not available in the US and for which we are bound to import from suppliers abroad. This doesn’t solve the supply chain issues caused by the continuous changes in trade policy, but it offers a wider range of supply options, made possible by the efforts of an irrepressible team with the right customer-centric mindset.
Countries relevant to Bekaert that have installed global or bilateral trade barriers against imports of steel wire rod or half products, impacting price levels and/or sourcing decisions – or with protection measures creating a rather isolated domestic supply chain (Russia).
The new organizational set-up, as announced on 1 March 2019, will enable our teams to live a more customer-centric and performance-driven culture. With global accountability for strategy and delivery in their distinct areas, the four Bekaert Business Units will develop approaches aligned with the specific needs of their respective customers and with the dynamics and trends within their markets. The revised structure will enable faster decision-making and technology and innovation development, as well as enhanced agility to respond to change, which should benefit our customers.