In today’s episode, I speak with Antonio Susta, Head of Customer Experience and Customer Service at The Linde Group, a world leading supplier of industrial, processes and specialty gases.
Antonio has a lot of experience blending marketing and sales. As a marketer, he was a fan of B2B marketing for technical products, and spent almost 10 years with Air Liquide, where he became familiar working in a large B2B company in the gas and tech industry. Antonio’s previous experience showed him that companies in B2B tech fields don’t often think about CX. Now, as a CX leader at Linde Group Italy, he has the support he needs to lead and implement a CX transformation, per the company’s new focus.
Improving Customers’ Lives is Meaningful
Linde was actually one of the first companies in the gas industry to launch a customer-driven CX program, and it’s being piloted in 30 countries. Focusing on customer experience is still uncommon in this type of industry across many countries in the EU.
When Antonio began leading this CX work, he found that no one really knew what customer experience was – and that’s actually a common occurrence. This is why so much of the initial work in CX transformation entails communicating what customer experience actually is and how it will improve the experience internally and externally. Based off his experience in marketing and sales, and managing an Air Liquide branch, he realized that improving customers’ lives is meaningful and wanted to be a part of that.
While leading this customer experience work for Linde Italy, Antonio developed a 6-pillar framework to start implementing the program. The pillars he created were: strategy, customer understanding, design, KPI, governance, and culture/people engagement.
Get a Real-Time View of Customer Chats and E-mails
Antonio’s focus is only on Linde Group Italy, and when he started, he had to create a baseline of what was happening. As many of us have previously experienced, he saw there were a lot of silos, different priorities and agendas, and bosses in different countries.
Antonio’s process for assessing the work to be done, and the compilation of information in order to start implementing processes took about 4 – 8 months, which was the crawl-to-walk phase.
During this time, Antonio and his team crafted internal seminars and workshops based on 3 messages:
What is customer experience?
Why is it important?
What are the benefits it will bring us?
In addition to hosting seminars and workshops, Antonio spent time on the front lines seeing for himself what was a part of the problem. He would go to the customer service centers to get a real-time view of incoming mail and chats with front line customer service reps. He spent at least an hour with a customer agent to see their interactions and processes. After doing this repeatedly, he was able to help connect dots between customer issues so the problem can be solved quickly. This is a technique that many CX leaders will take on, as it’s important to see what your frontline employees are seeing and handling on a day-to-day basis.
With this hands-on approach, Antonio solved many of these internal problems with the IT department, rather than holding numerous big meetings to try and push something through. Though this tactic may not work for everyone, Antonio efficiently handled these issues quickly because he understood the source of the problem and where he could get immediate alignment to improve a problematic situation.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
- Knowing that in B2B, almost everyone is in the same situation, so you have to start reading and studying a lot. Unless you know exactly what you’re talking about, everything will be so intangible and blurred. You might be stuck forever. Attend conferences and learn as much as you can; the concepts and basics are the same for each market.
When it comes to CX, unless you know exactly what you’re talking about, everything will be so intangible and blurred. Attend conferences and learn as much as you can; the concepts and basics are the same for each market. - @b2bmobileeu Click To Tweet
About Antonio SustasAntonio is a trilingual CX leader who has been driving customer experience for The Linde Group since 2014 and spent about 10 years at Air Liquide. With a strong background in B2B and business dealing with Fortune 500 Global companies, Antonio has an educational background in Business and Managerial Economics from Università degli Studi di Bergamo in Italy, and went to Harvard Business School for specialization in Business Marketing Strategy.
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