AAK's unique Customer Co-Development approach – a true differentiator and a crucial part of our business model – is fundamental for creating value and lasting results for our commercial partners. With the corona pandemic keeping people apart, a resourceful and efficient digital work environment has grown increasingly important – so also for our Customer Co-Development approach.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed both how we live our lives and how we do business. The way we used to do things on a daily basis – our habits, priorities and concerns – has dramatically changed due to social distancing. Simultaneously, digitalization has more than ever become a significant part of our daily activities.
Although we still see a great will and need to interact with our customers face-to-face in the future, we have started to digitalize our Customer Co-Development approach to be able to continue to understand the challenges and needs of our customers.
"Personal contact is an instrumental part of our Customer Co-Development approach, whether creating relationships or building trust and engagement with our customers", says AAK's Hans Elbek Pedersen, Director Customer Innovation. "Therefore, it is important not only to ensure we apply the Customer Co-Development approach remotely, but also to keep the 'personal connection' alive in the digital environment."
Continuous development of digital activities
Although AAK has used digital communication tools with its customers for many years, the outbreak of the corona pandemic necessitated a redesign and an upgrade of the tools to improve the customer interaction.
"We are continuously collecting and evaluating ideas of digital activities related to the five Customer Co-Development steps (Ideate, Create, Prove, Implement, Launch) to identify best practice cases to leverage our customer interaction even further", says Hans Elbek Pedersen. "We share these cases with all our Sales and Customer Innovation Managers to enable the organization to meet our customers as closely as possible all over the world."
An example of these activities are webinars which have been a part of our customer dialogues for some time. These webinars include AAK ACADEMY™-level topics of special interest to our customers in the different industries. Going forward, these AAK ACADEMY™ webinars will be a supplement to our usual face-to-face sessions regularly run at our Customer Innovation Centers across the world.
Another great advantage of the webinars is the possibility of inviting multiple customer representatives to the meetings without additional costs, and, of course, without travel time. We have also developed virtual presentation tours of all our Customer Innovation Centers to offer our customers full involvement in our Co-Development activities. We have in addition expanded our communication on social media such as LinkedIn and WhatsApp to enable even closer customer contact.
The customer feedback on our digitalized Customer Co-Development approach has been very positive. "I'm delighted by the way you have adopted your work in these unprecedented times by using technology coupled with trust and collaboration", one customer said. "Regardless of being virtual, the chocolate session I attended was both refreshing and engaging", another one said.
"At AAK, we stay agile and adopt to every customer need as it arises", says Hans Elbek Pedersen. "We are determined to meet the high expectations of our customers to be able to co-develop the optimal solution."