CCW Europe Speaker Spotlight: Schneider Electric's Jochen Sadlers on Digital CX
Going from product-centric to digital platform-as-a-service
B2B companies like manufacturers and tech solution providers are grappling with how to improve the customer experience for a diverse set of end users, even if the company itself has no direct touchpoint with them.
Often, this means empowering external business partners to deliver a better customer experience to their customer base, whether they’re distribution partners, solution providers or retailers.
Digital platforms, self-service tools and knowledge bases help partners become more literate in the products they’re reselling on behalf of the parent company.
Providing a single touchpoint for all customer interactions
For global energy management firm Schneider Electric, it was crucial to provide a unified portal for its customers, partners and in-house customer support team to communicate, browse the digital catalog and, more importantly, find industry partners to collaborate with.
It changed Schneider’s role from a product-focused business to a service provider, where its digital platform helps partners find other contractors to work with, even if Schneider itself isn’t directly involved in the client-facing project.
“We realized the world is changing, so we try now to have an ecosystem where our partners can interact with each other even without Schneider, or bring in new players like startups or data architects and so on,” said Jochen Sadlers, head of digital customer experience at Schneider Electric, who is slated to speak at CCW Europe in October.
Schneider Electric provides energy management and automation solutions for homes, buildings, data centers and more, equipping buildings with IoT devices like smart lights and smart ventilation to help facility managers reduce their energy costs and carbon footprint.
For instance, smart sensors can detect when a room is empty and automatically shut off the AC and lights. Meanwhile, AI-powered building management systems can help a building shrink overheads from electricity use and system maintenance.
The overall CX team at Schneider Electric is split between the customer care center (CS reps and the quality assurance team) and digital CX, which oversees self-service, web and the digital portals designed for their partners.
Adding value through digital platforms
Recently, Schneider Electric created one centralized platform for its end users called mySchneider, a digital catalog personalized to your customer profile.
It also built a partner portal called the Schneider Electric Exchange for its partner ecosystem, the world’s first cross-industry ecosystem dedicated to solving sustainability and efficiency challenges. The portal has a distinct UX or user journey designed for eight different partner personas, from electricians to IT resellers and more.
Each user persona gets value-added content that’s most relevant to them. For instance, an electrician would periodically receive updates on standards and regulations for energy solutions, while a facility manager would see recommendations for how to further economize water or electricity use.
“Our end customers are very diverse,” said Sadlers. “Even we as a big company struggle to satisfy all of our customers and help our partners to satisfy their end customers. That’s why we set up Schneider Electric Exchange.”
The Exchange also acts as a digital marketplace where Schneider partners can access datasets to help them build their own technical solutions, such as predictive maintenance algorithms. They can then use the marketplace to market these solutions to other practitioners in the energy management space.
“If they put it on Google Play or the Apple app store nobody would ever find it because the target audience is 300 people or something,” said Sadlers. “But if they go to our dedicated marketplace they will find the right people in energy management.”
Striking a balance between empowering customers and selling a product
Through the Exchange, Schneider provides its partners with a value-added network of other practitioners in the field. Say a partner needs contractors to complete a project; they can log onto the Schneider platform, specify their needs and find, say, a plant manager in Germany and a data analyst in India.
Sadlers says that Schneider is uniquely positioned to offer these networking opportunities through a digital platform, and that doing so pays off in the long-term even if there’s no upfront revenue to the company.
“In the end, [all three] are more satisfied with Schneider Electric because we could provide them with a solution even if it’s not directly from us but from our ecosystem,” Sadlers added.
Even non-partners and non-customers can join the platform, because its strength lies in the contributions of the collective and the partnerships that are forged online. It also harks back to Schneider’s core ethos of having open systems rather than proprietary code, and making sure customers own their data.
Catch Sadlers and other CX experts this October at CCW Europe in Amsterdam, where Sadlers will discuss how Schneider’s digital CX team developed a community around a digital industry ecosystem and drove customer service and growth through co-creation.