Thought Leaders 2021: John Leadbetter
What are the three biggest challenges or threats facing your industry in 2021?
COVID-19 has affected VEGA globally from a logistics and manufacturing perspective, with a reduction in business that impacted customer investments and consumer confidence. Companies were facing choices of whether they should invest due to the economic uncertainty and particularly with government initiatives and programs under jeopardy. It has affected customers who export and whether they are able to find diversity in their markets, ie, markets in China and diversification to avoid or reduce restrictions.
What impacts has the COVID-19 global pandemic had on your industry, and how does this affect your business strategies for 2021?
In terms of COVID’s impact on industry, it has consequently caused an increased delay in freight times as well as freight costs for VEGA. This means the need for higher investment in carrying more stock, which has increased costs for VEGA. Additionally, restricted access to customers during COVID has meant a new approach with digital marketing campaigns and platforms to combat this and maintain customer interaction/reach. Furthermore, added measures were introduced to encourage and stimulate customer interactions and conversations to adapt to this new disruption of COVID.
What are your thoughts about the post-COVID-19 ‘new normal’ in relation to remote working technologies and supporting staff?
The new norm of COVID and adapting to this means a bigger investment in telecommunications by customers and a bigger investment in training. In terms of supporting staff, VEGA has been at the forefront of providing remote work arrangements and support, and we currently have staff in most states and territories in Australia as well as a service manager at head office that has been able to utilise technologies such as Zoom and Team Viewer to assist customers remotely as well as account managers in any of the states. Our service and sales team have a wealth of experience and utilising Zoom for them as been really central, especially when it comes to reassuring our customers that it is business as usual for VEGA.
VEGA is using a few strategies to help clients when it comes to troubleshooting. While it is ideal to be on the ground, with lockdown laws in place, other methods have been adopted.
“We’ve got everybody on Zoom, so that is our main way to support the industry in terms of our service and sales team to help with any issues remotely,” said Alex Mazor, VEGA’s marketing manager. “We are available to help customers with product settings, adjustments and diagnostics. Also, we’re remotely assisting our customers by being able to access VEGA software platforms such as PACTware using a remote function via iOS, Android and PC devices, so that helps them with any set-up, product demo or backend configurations.
“Our service and sales team have a wealth of experience and utilising Zoom for them as been really central, especially when it comes to reassuring our customers that it is business as usual for VEGA.”
One piece of technology that VEGA is utilising is the VEGA tools app, which can be used on either an iPhone/iPad or Android mobile phone. “In the old days there were two ways of setting up an instrument — either pressing a button on the top or a laptop. Now it’s Bluetooth, so the customer can pull out their iPhone or iPad or Android device and use the VEGA tools app. It really just takes troubleshooting and support to the whole next level. VEGA is also doing product demonstrations live through Zoom, setting up a scenario where the company can go through the product with clients. While the circumstances in which they work might have changed, the amount of support VEGA offers has not.”
What sustainability strategies will be at the forefront for your business in 2021?
An increased emphasis on more customer training via online and face-to-face workshops and a bigger focus on customer communication strategies via digital platforms and CRM management. Furthermore, R&D investment with the development of innovative battery-powered units is on the cards for 2021 along with greater access and focus on IoT infrastructure. We strive to work alongside a number of organisations to achieve the “common” goal. Standardisation of product selection is another area we will be focusing on, whereby combining the benefits of six models into three models will aim to achieve a more versatile product offering and reduce stock holding for customers.
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