Going the extra mile in the future

Customer Centricity

Tomorrow’s Extra Mile

What will customers be expecting from brands in 2030? How can we at Hager Group prepare to meet these expectations? Customer Marketing Director Europe Caroline Nivelle on why she believes values such as closeness, expertise and an individual understanding will grow rather than diminish in importance when it comes to customer relations.

Caroline Nivelle and her team constantly monitor customer satisfaction which is measured with an NPS – a Net Promoter Score.

Caroline, please imagine a trip to the electric world of 2030. What will the typical Hager customer be like?

Caroline Nivelle: Let me start with what is not going to change by 2030, customers will still expect the human touch which always serves to improve everyday life a little bit. If anything, this will be even more important than it is today. The good news is that this proximity, this closeness, the fact that we are there for our customers is something they value and recognise us for. Our latest NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey confirmed that our customers are highly likely to recommend us.

However, we are not resting on our laurels. We have a clear ambition to establish our position as a relationship brand. We work hard to maintain the steep pace of our digitisation as I expect our customers to be more demanding in terms of our services. They will expect from us the best human and digital relationships possible.

Extraordinary ideas emerge when you bring people together in an unconventional place and challenge them. This is exactly what the Garden located at Hager Forum in Obernai is all about; it’s a place for meeting and exchanging ideas with partners, customers and visitors.

Understanding, and in particular relationships, will be key factors driving our customer strategy then?

Absolutely, I’m convinced that by 2030 companies without a high level of empathy will be struggling. Customers will no longer tolerate suppliers who don’t strive to make their lives easier across every touchpoint on their journey.

For us it is essential to meet these expectations. If we want to make our customers’ lives easier and show we understand their needs, we must offer strong, customer-centric digital solutions as part of our overall customer centricity. This means focusing on listening, adapting to situations, being creative and showing a deep understanding of our customers.

We will be looking for efficient and easy interactions which are agile and localised in equal measure.

Caroline Nivelle, Customer Marketing Director Europe


With the second edition of our customer survey we doubled the number of interviewers to 7,000 and increased the number of participating countries from five to eleven. Also, the scope of target groups interviewed was increased: distributors, panel builders and electricians were joined by large installers and consultants.


In addition to the Speak Up! survey, we intend to conduct on-spot surveys after specific events, such as training or customer activities, asking the participants if they’re happy with their experience or not. The aim is to get instant feedback and to share our insights within the company.

Customer centric

In logistics, we changed the Key Performance Indicator, in which we measure our performance, from “On Time Dispatched” (OTD) to “On Time Received” (OTR). So instead of checking when a delivery leaves our warehouse, we want to know when it actually reaches our customer. That is a simple, but important change.

In practical terms, what form will this level of understanding take?

We will be looking for efficient and easy interactions which are agile and localised in equal measure. This is especially important as with increasing digitalisation comes more interaction via digital portals and platforms, be it on a smartphone or any other device you might be using. We are aware that not all customers share the same preferences, so of course there will always be a choice of personal interaction as well as closely tailored digital access.

Hands-on solutions are offered at ‘the Lab’ which is also at our Obernai site.

With the road to 2030 ahead, how do we further develop the understanding you mentioned as crucial for a fruitful customer relationship?

We have to listen carefully to our customers, develop a deep empathy for their needs and make clear that with regard to customer centricity, everyone in the company can make a difference. In the end, the differentiating factor for our brand is the people. Or to be more precise, the right people at the right moment with the right attitude towards customers. In fact, it is all about direct interaction between staff and customers as well as in developing digital interfaces which our customers understand and can easily use. We must design secure, simple and ingenious solutions and recruit customer-centric staff to best support our customers.

Would you call it a mindset to move in tandem with the digitalisation?

For our employees, empowerment is key. “Do I feel I have the rights, possibility or mandate to act on customer feedback and to make improvements in my field of expertise?” It is also about responsibility and ownership. “Do I have room for this topic? Do I make it a priority?”

Hager Ready

The application, which was first launched in France in 2017, is a direct result of an intensive dialogue with our customers. By consistently taking the requirements of installers into account, it makes their day-to-day work much easier. For example, tradesmen can easily label fuse cabinets on the move using the dictation function, have the necessary documentation printed out from the construction site and plan projects on the move. Conversely, the app is an incredible platform for us to stay in contact with our tradesmen customers. We recently developed an updated version, which was beta-tested by a large group of electricians in the spirit of “For you, with you”. Their feedback was used to improve the app.

In the end, the differentiating factor for a brand like Hager is people. Or to be more precise, the right people with the right attitude towards customers.

Caroline Nivelle

All of this is extremely challenging as it is a responsibility shared by 11,500 employees. We need to ensure everybody has the means to act and to be a part of the change we want to see in our company in line with Project 2030.

For you, with you. In the year 2021, around around 11,500 employees will ensure that everything runs smoothly for our customers.

One of our objectives in Project 2030 is to embed customer centricity in all its functions. Can you explain what that actually means?

One of our top priorities in 2021 is to give everybody within the organisation daily and instant access to customer feedback. This project is being led by our colleague Tim Waring. Our ultimate goal is for everybody to be able to continuously work on improving their strategy so as to make a clear impact and difference in their day-to-day work. Listening to customers and acting on their feedback enables such improvement. All colleagues should be aware it is important to create great customer experiences. In the end, people will be proud of their achievements and customers will be happier. A win-win situation.

What do you expect from each Hager Group employee? How will you support them in achieving these goals?

First, all of us must work together to patiently eradicate the pain points that occur along the customer journey. This is achieved through careful human and excellent digital interaction. Secondly, every single one of us has to know they hold part of the key to reaching our ambition.

I would be very proud if by 2030 every employee in the company feels they have an impact on customer satisfaction. Achieving that would truly make me happy.

If we are serious about creating the customer experience we will need to have everybody on board.

Caroline Nivelle

Easy to return

One area in which customers did not rank us as highly as in others was our complaints management and our return policy. So just after the first Speak Up! survey two years ago, we mapped the a customer journey in all different markets to learn how returns are happening today. We saw a process that differed from country to country and could be very time consuming for the customer. Too long, too non-transparent, not up to our standards as a relational brand.
We therefore completely reworked the ideal customer journey. In April 2021 we started to implement it for German panel builders. We now have an easy tool for customers where they can register their complaint and track its status. We will launch a similarly simple process for installers in the near future, other markets will follow. The overall goal is to make complaints and returns as easy as possible. The process leading to easy to return is a routine we want to develop systematically. Thoroughly listening to our customers, getting their feedback, improving the customer experience and then checking again.
Daniel Hager – EditorialTomorrow’s world and beyond – EssayThe hub and spoke principle – LogisticsMaking it our project – Project businessCombined energies – Energy ManagementThe power of many – SustainabilityGoing the extra mile in the future – Customer CentricityDigital twins conquer construction sites – DigitalisationBoard of Directors – Our Supervisory Board – Contacts for our customers – Facts & figures – Imprint – Hager Group Annual Report ArchiveHager Group Annual Report 2020/21Hager Group Annual Report 2019/20Hager Group Annual Report 2018/19Hager Group Annual Report 2017/18Hager Group Annual Report 2016Hager Group Annual Report 2015