Communication with customers to maximize customer satisfaction
Provision of Sustainability-conscious Products & Services
Globally operating companies are strengthening their efforts to enhance sustainability, not only in-house but in their supply chains as well. As such, customers' expectations for the OMRON Group to fulfill its responsibility in this area are on the rise. In the electronics industry, more companies are asking their suppliers to comply with the Code of Conduct established by RBA, Responsible Business Alliance*1.
Amid this global supply chain trend, Sustainable Office is playing a leading role at the Group to work together with business segments and HQ departments. Specifically, the Group conducts self-assessments using the Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) provided by RBA in order to confirm its status of compliance with RBA standards in five categories: Labor, health & safety, environment, ethics, and management system.
During fiscal 2020, we conducted self-assessments at 25 of our major production sites in Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and Europe using the RBA survey form and our own human rights and labor status survey form. At our production sites in Vietnam, we conducted RBA-VAP audits*2 and conducted third-party evaluations. We identified no high-risk sites in our overall evaluation according to the standards set by the RBA. However, we did discover some gaps with the RBA required standards. We took measures to the gaps, including a review or our own standards and the establishment of a management framework.
The OMRON Group will continue to take measures to ensure that all products and services the Group provides with customers are sustainable in social and environmental aspects.
We are seeing an increase in the number of customers who require that third-party organizations conduct evaluations of our overall sustainability initiatives.
Our production site in Vietnam received an RBA third-party audit, and we reported the results to our customers upon requests.
We also received a sustainability evaluation as the OMRON Group from EcoVadis*1 (France). In 2020, we at the Group received an evaluation that placed us among the top 1% of companies assessed, with the highest rating of Platinum. We share these evaluation results through the EcoVadis platform with customers upon requests, to contribute to their sustainability.
Regarding climate and water-related issues, we are contributing to customers' environmental initiatives through the CDP*2 supply chain questionnaire.
Industrial Automation Business (IAB), which offers control equipment and factory automation systems, is working to help customers to realize innovation in manufacturing with a wide range of OMRON products, applications that connect the products, combined with services and support.
There is an increasing demand for services and support on production floors with drastic changes in social environment, such as technical innovation seen in robots and IoT, as well as labor shortage. In order to respond to these needs, we use our own proprietary network spanning countries around the world to provide extensive service and support tailored to customers' business processes, ranging from equipment design through to installation and maintenance.
In terms of global manufacturing, we have the same concerns and worries as our customers as regards our overseas production floors and daily operations. There is a time difference, languages are different, we can see each other. We sympathize with such customer concerns and annoyances, and we are aiming to eliminate these.
Accordingly, so that we could more rapidly and seamlessly provide support in resolving local manufacturing issues to our customers who are expanding their business worldwide, in April 2018 we established the Consultation Desk service with the aim of functioning as a service network hub connecting OMRON overseas service locations.
At OMRON, we already have a network of over 150 locations in 40 countries worldwide, making up a global support system. However, regional requests for service support that were previously cross-border were either handled by customers directly contacting their local OMRON base, or by OMRON sales representatives contacting them individually. In order to carry this out more effectively and promptly, we have put in place a global liaison function at our sales headquarters in Japan, Europe, the Americas, Greater China, and the Asia Pacific region. Additionally, we have enhanced our cross-border support system that provides backup to customers, and this includes a goal of responding to requests within 48 hours of receipt.
We are a specialist group that provides support for manufacturing, and we will continue to evolve every day with the aim of improving the global competitiveness of our customers.
To the customers expanding their business overseas, IAB wants them to feel assured in using OMRON's control equipment anywhere and anytime. To this end, IAB identified nearly 20 core services and support, visualizing the service provision status, not only in Japan but at each global area, and started offering them the latest information. Moreover, IAB is working to minimize the customers' workload and concerns in different multinational procedures, by establishing the stronger structure to link OMRON's global sites with each other, to closely assist customers.
While most customer support centers in Japan target an 80% customer satisfaction level, OMRON has set a higher goal in pursuit of 90%-plus customer satisfaction and works day and night to improve customer satisfaction. In particular, we place importance on ease of connection and capabilities to proactively make technical propositions and recommendations.
We have received a certain level of positive feedback for ease of connection and will continue our efforts here.
In the area of product technology proposal capabilities, based on customer feedback regarding solutions to social issues such as labor shortages, we intend to enhance our response capabilities further at call centers with respect to controllers, motion, and imaging for industrial robots and application-type products. In FY2021, we stepped up our efforts to reduce the burden on customers by expanding the number of contact points available to respond to inquiries. We will continue to improve the overall level of our operators, not only in responding to inquiries, but also in proposing further improvements based on each customer's situation.
In response to changing customer needs, we developed a new consultation channel (chat response) for dealers in FY2020. We began expanding this channel to general customers in January 2022. In the future, we will introduce a new Customer Effort Scale (CES) survey and make improvements based on feedback from dealers and general customers. This feedback will lead to expanded services and improved satisfaction.
Since we began surveys in 2014, we have been striving for 95%-plus customer satisfaction every year. Each quarter, we measure customer satisfaction. More specifically, we send a survey to customers via e-mail, asking for a five-point evaluation. We also ask for areas they liked and areas requiring improvement. We share these responses within our call center, considering each issue and forming responses for improvement.
IAB offers the latest information and services online so that customers can obtain necessary information at any time, including product information, users' manuals, CAD, downloadable certification documents, as well as search function to find recommended replacing models for discontinued items. Furthermore, IAB is working to provide more information online to help solve customers’ business issues, such as labor shortages in factories and difficulty in passing down the expertise of skilled workforce: OMRON’s solutions to realize innovation at manufacturing sites using its robots and IoT; and practical cases of its customers who have implemented cutting-edge manufacturing innovation.
IAB Japan's website placed first in the 2021 B-to-B site ranking established by Tribeck Brand Strategies, Inc. for the fifteenth consecutive year. IAB's steady efforts to enable continuous improvements in the world of the ever-advancing internet were highly regarded by customers, which resulted in this recurring honor. IAB will continue offering a broader range of information and service of high value to customers' manufacturing.
We at IAB will continue our efforts to keep up with further technical evolution and realization of innovative applications. To do so, we will keep challenging ourselves to create new services and support, making the most of OMRON-only technologies, know-hows, and experience earned at actual production floors. We at IAB want to be recognized by our customers as their partners in manufacturing innovation, so that we will work harder not only on hardware (control equipment) and software (applications) but also better services and support. We will keep evolving, together with customers.
OMRON Healthcare Co., Ltd. (HCB) offers customer support customized to each region in which the company’s global sites are located.
In Japan, we have established a Customer Support Center that handles customer inquiries, accessory sales, and repair requests through a single point of contact. The center received roughly 320,000 inquiries during fiscal 2020. While customer inquiries have traditionally been by telephone in the main, more recently customers are using a variety of other means, including contact forms on our websites, chatbots. In particular, the number of visits to our FAQ webpages in fiscal 2020 was up significantly, up 300% year on year, especially FAQs about thermometers and blood pressure monitors amid the spread of COVID-19. Given these conditions, HCB is focusing on improving FAQ page access and answers by analyzing customer inquiries and providing better answers, improving page flow and usability, and implementing other measures.
In the first half of fiscal 2021, HCB saw another increase in inquiries about thermometers and blood pressure monitor. As customers have higher interest in these devices amid the pandemic, HCB is committed to taking time to carefully answer their questions until they are fully satisfied.
Also, to correctly assess customer requests and rapidly reflect them in its products and services, HCB is committed to analyzing inquiries from customers. This enables timely feedback of customer input to staff of product planning, R&D and production departments.
HCB will continue to listen to customer feedback, striving for higher levels of customer satisfaction.
Since conducting surveys beginning in fiscal 2013, results have improved every year. Satisfaction for fiscal 2021 reached 98.3%.
We are pursuing the following initiatives in our Chinese call center to support and improve customer satisfaction.
The following are points of emphasis to improve operator quality for fiscal 2022.
In order to keep improving innovative-Automation products/services, IAB, the Industrial Automation Business monitors and evaluates opinions from target customers worldwide, to see if they find/expect innovative-Automation contributing/to contribute to their on-site innovation.
The results above show customer evaluations of innovative-Automation IAB proposed, gained from wide-ranged interviews with upper management to on-site engineers (e.g. in the food industry). For the interviews, product R&D members directly visit customers, or via online recently. We ask them for further opinions in the event that scores fell below the previous year's levels.
Based on these results, evaluation committees for each business and product within the company check and adjust the direction of these respective businesses and products, and carry out improvement activities, such as reviewing innovative-Automation proposals, to improve customer evaluations. Detailed improvement results have been reported back to customers.
OMRON Healthcare Co., Ltd. closely communicates with customers at the product planning, design, and after-sales stages. This allows the company to gain an accurate understanding of how products are used and the environment in which they are used. The company then uses this information to develop products that are easier to use and are higher in precision.
The WheezeScan wheeze detector, launched in Europe in April 2020, is a completely new product that allows asthma patients to capture characteristic asthma sounds at home before symptoms worsen.
Families with young children who have difficulty in communicating the symptoms of asthma to others are often worried about when a major attack will occur. This is why OMRON Healthcare took on the challenge to develop a wheeze detector that can capture the sounds of wheezing, which can only be identified by a specialist, at home.
Simply placed on the child’s chest, the wheeze detector can determine the presence of asthma-indicating sounds within 30 seconds. The shape and material of the unit, as well as the shape of the sensor and feeling on the skin, must facilitate ease of use in the home and acceptance by the child. Failure to meet these criteria will result in the inability to deliver accurate measurements, no matter how precise the sensing technology involved.
This is why project members visited asthma patients in Japan and around the world to understand patient concerns and observe actual treatment, considering what an ideal product should be moving forward.
As part of this effort, the project invited children and their parents to use simple sensor prototypes in a space created within the company to simulate the home environment for monitoring. Project members then worked together to observe actions and gather sensing data to understand what families concerned themselves with in particular, how children moved during measurements, what types of noises were generated and captured, etc. The monitoring revealed a number of unexpected and insightful findings about the circumstances before and after measurement, including how parents held their children and the reactions of the children to the procedure.
The wheeze detector WheezeScan was born from our strong desire to provide support to pediatric asthma patients and their families, offering as much peace of mind as possible during treatment. Here, we learned a great deal through sincere dialogue with patients and their families.
The WheezeScan won the Japan's 2020 Good Design Award in recognition of the outstanding product concept, design, and a new value to manage asthma at home in order to detect asthma attacks in early stage and prevent severer conditions. The product was also selected as one of the Good Design Best 100. Globally, it worn the world’s prominent iF design award 2021 of Germany.