Corona has demonstrated: Digital systems have been running smoothly and companies are also able to be successful with flexible models of working time and employees working from home. How are you experiencing the new work reality? Is everything only good?
Michael Saitow: Generally speaking this cannot be judged. It depends on many factors like company size, industry and above all the respective company culture. As a company focused on e-commerce and dominated by IT, we experienced an easy transition. Our communication takes place via email, chat or video conferences; daily, weekly or other regularly occurring deadlines facilitate coming to an agreement or focusing on important topics. Moreover, for years, we have been using a project management tool, where all the work processes are planned and documented. Nonetheless, the best preparation of generous guidelines for remote working will not be successful, if not all the parties involved pull together. Trust and discipline are the foundation of a successful implementation.
Furthermore, it has to be considered in our new work reality that there are always employees for whom working from home does not make sense because e.g. they do not have enough room in their flat. Additionally, personal contact among employees and team spirit may suffer because of generous guidelines for remote working. Thus, we created flexible workplaces at our main location in Kaiserslautern. There are no longer fixed workplaces, but they are freely selectable on a daily basis. Some rooms are reserved for working in a highly concentrated and creative way, others enable collaborative working, where employees telephoning together on a regular basis could also sit together. You make a reservation for the flexible workplace via a smart app, which was programmed in-house.
Will you give up traditional field service in the future? Will personal contacts with customers become irrelevant?
Michael Saitow: Personal contact with customers will remain important, but in a different way. The crucial difference compared to field service will be that selling processes and customer service will be carried out remotely by Inside Sales, that means in an electronic way or via phone and no longer via personal contact at the customer’s site. Increasing pressure from costs and competition as well as fast developing technologies together with changing customer demands have caused this rethinking.
Nowadays, customers are used to communicating via digital and analog channels at the same time in order to take purchasing decisions. Everything is based on the multi-channel principle. Moreover, many customers do not show much interest in field service visits, which are not considered to be really important. Actually, the number of really important visits can be counted on a single hand, as many of them just used to be appointments to “have a coffee together”. Thus, there has been a clearly noticeable trend towards faster, more efficient and cost-reducing sales processes combined with targeted and individualized customer approaches. Thanks to Inside Sales we are able to reduce cost- and time-intensive travelling activities, which used to be typical of this job and harmful to the environment at the same time. Desk-oriented sales processes enable us to meet the customers’ wishes and requirements in a faster and more flexible way.
Furthermore, information and services can often be provided at the touch of a button. Additionally, we at Tyre24 pay a lot of attention to be very close to our customers in case of questions, suggestions or problems. A big support team is constantly on service for personal and professional contact. Whoever has problems reaching us via phone, e.g. during high season, is able to initiate a free and personal callback request. Getting in contact with the support team via email is naturally possible at any time. In the future, we will also be present at relevant events to give our customers possibilities for personal meetings.
Positioning a company in a climate-neutral way – what additional measures will Saitow AG take apart from reorganizing the company fleet?
Michael Saitow: Operating the leading B2B platform for the automotive aftermarket in Europe implies being a role model in the area of sustainability – this includes economic, ecological and social aspects. We will put concrete eco-friendly measures into practice together with our whole team as of now. This will not only happen because of a pure sense of duty, but because of conviction.
In the years to come, one of our most important steps will be to achieve climate neutrality. Sustainable actions do not only consist of individual steps. Thus, we will question all our processes and actions in a holistic way and will develop sustainable alternatives step by step. As a consequence, we will continuously reduce emissions produced by us.
We have already put some measures into practice like remote working, abolition of the field service, online job interviews, reduction of business trips, a paperless office, and collective orders for office material to avoid unnecessary transport distances. Furthermore, I would like to mention waste separation, free-of-charge beverage supply for employees with returnable glass bottles and avoiding plastic tableware and cutlery in our bistro and coffee kitchens.