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Shimadzu UK’s ‘Centre of Excellence’ focuses on quality improvement and customer service

Shimadzu-striving for excellenceShimadzu UK's office in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire is more than just a company headquarters, the facility has been developed as a major ‘Centre of Excellence' for analytical and environmental instrumentation.  The new Centre is specifically geared to help UK customers evaluate technical solutions tailored to their specific requirements.

Shimadzu UK is one of the most advanced suppliers of high quality analytical measuring instruments and services in chromatography, mass spectrometry, spectroscopy, environmental technology and biotechnology to businesses and organizations throughout the UK.  The Milton Keynes facility is focused on creating, developing, promoting and implementing ‘Excellence' and Shimadzu UK's approach is based on four key aspects of ‘Excellence' which include: Customer Relationships; Customer Solutions; Customer Training & Development as well as Customer Service.

When developing the Centre, Shimadzu UK consulted with all of its staff in a full review of the company's activities to ensure the business is able to deliver ‘Excellence' in all four key areas.  Applying the world renowned ‘Kaizen' methodology of continuous improvement, Shimadzu UK has carefully nurtured a shared, constructive ‘mindset' within the company that reminds its people to constantly consider how they can improve their work, their environment and help each other.

Customer Relationships

When it comes to building Customer Relationships Shimadzu UK has quite simply made the customer central to everything it does.  The company's structure is designed around the customer with Shimadzu UK's salespeople focusing on specific sectors.  The company will only recommend solutions once the company's Product Specialists have verified that they can solve a customer's requirements. Shimadzu UK's internal and external service people actively build relationships with customers and also provide training.  Of Shimadzu's 9800 staff worldwide more than half contribute to research and development and provide customer feedback through feedback forums held with customers.

Customer Solutions

Shimadzu UK adopts a two stage process to providing Customer Solutions.  Firstly, there is a ‘Discovery' phase where the company listens and strives to understand the customer's requirements.  Secondly, there is a ‘Solution' phase where the company recommends what it feels will most help the customer.

"One of the central reasons why so many businesses are switching to Shimadzu is our customer focused approach.  The company's sales specialists do not try and sell a customer a solution before they have learnt about the customer's business and what precise solution they need," explained Darin Enefer, Shimadzu UK's Sales Director.  "The ‘Discovery' phase helps to develop a real understanding of the customer's needs.  We don't really want to present too early.  We want to truly understand the customer.  Our sales people and our product support team have been trained intensively to really understand the customer by using a very ‘open' questioning method to really gain a full understanding of the customer".

"Too many organizations either don't listen, or if they do listen, they don't have the solutions to back it up.  What I love about working for Shimadzu is that we have a caring approach for customers but we are also able to do something about what they trying to achieve". 

Following the ‘Discovery' phase during which the customer requirements have been fully appreciated, the company invites them to Shimadzu UK's Evaluation Laboratory at the company's Centre of Excellence in Milton Keynes where customers have the opportunity to evaluate its solutions against other options they may be considering thereby enabling them to make an informed choice.

Having understood the needs of a customer a highly trained product specialist then translates these requirements into the appropriate technology and machinery.  Only once Shimadzu is completely satisfied that it has found a suitable solution will the company invite the customer to a demonstration of the solution at the company's state-of-the-art evaluation centre in Milton Keynes. 

"We very much believe in the power of the evaluation process.  We bring the customer to our facilities in Milton Keynes and it is the extension of the ‘Solutions' phase of the whole sales process.  So we have understood from the ‘Discovery' phase the needs of the customer and then we present the solution. That principle and that process are very much appreciated by the customer," said Enefer.

Customer Training & Development

Shimadzu UK's approach to Customer Training & Development is based on four key aspects which include: On-site installation training (Basic, Intermediate & Advanced); Classroom Development; Guest Speakers/Hot Topics as well as Networking Events.  The company is also embracing social media networking tools to keep in contact with its customers and has launched Shimadzu UK Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.  The social media toolkit has already developed a strong, growing fan club that has created an online community that is regularly sharing ideas and building know how. 

The Centre of Excellence in Milton Keynes provides ongoing training every month for all of the company's staff.  The training is focused on 15 key competencies which include: Customer service skills; Sales relationship planning; Knowledge of the customer's business and strategy; Understanding and influencing decision making; Developing multi contact relationships; Sales platform management; Interpersonal skills; Presentation skills; Market knowledge; Commercial understanding; Competitor knowledge and usage; Objection handling; Closing sales opportunities; Persuasion & influencing skills and Team working.

Customer Service

Shimadzu UK's recruitment policies and structure are carefully tailored to offer top quality customer service.  All Shimadzu UK staff are full-time employees and all staff are directly contactable in the UK.  The company runs 15 service engineers plus four support staff who are office based.

"Shimadzu UK's core company values are that at all times we seek excellence and focus on quality in everything we do," explained Enefer.  "Listening to our customers is the key to our approach."

Capitalizing on Global R&D Investment

As part of a worldwide operation Shimadzu UK benefits from Shimadzu's substantial global investment in R&D but it is the company's ability to listen to its customers and develop tools in accordance with customer needs that really sets it apart.  This approach has been meticulously developed by Shimadzu UK for the UK market which has its own unique challenges. 

"It is a Shimadzu belief that we are really a global organization so we have to think strategically in a global sense but very importantly our role is to address the UK market in a local sense. So we are very much ‘Think Global, Act Local'," explained Colin Jump, Shimadzu UK's managing director.

"Most of our UK customers operate in a highly developed mature market and are actually part of global companies themselves.   So very often in our discussions and negotiations customers are turning to us at Shimadzu UK and saying that is great for what we want but what about our offices overseas?  Can you support them in an overseas environment?  Being part of a global organization allows us to really extend the story of the solution we have given to the UK customer to overseas markets and overseas installations."

Creating Long Term, Sustainable Solutions

The underlying reason Shimadzu is so successful in providing long term solutions is the investment the company makes is R&D.  Out of a global workforce of 9000 staff almost half contribute to R&D.  This global resource is clearly a huge advantage to Shimadzu UK's customer base.  Shimadzu's R&D is not only focused on product capability but also on sustainability.  The company understands that if a product is to be future-proof it must not only fulfill its role technologically but environmentally as well and this is as vital to Shimadzu as it is to its customers. 

Shimadzu's ethos is to develop long term customer relationships and this means that products have longevity - both technologically and in terms of service and maintenance. 

"We have a strong emphasis on ensuring that the products are the very latest technologies and that they have a very long life for their expected use.  It is gratifying to know that we can be servicing and supporting equipment that is 25 years old and still going strong.  There is a history and a focus within the company that ensures our products will be giving long service.  That is all part of our design ethic," suggested Jump.

"In the products that we sell the design philosophy is to reduce size and reduce energy consumption.  For example, our latest chromatography instruments consume 30 percent less electricity.  We are also looking at the actual footprint of the instrument so that we can put more instruments on any available space on a bench," commented Enefer.  "With this customer focused approach and our huge investment in R&D Shimadzu is laying solid foundations for sustainability and solid foundations for growth".

Click here to see Shimadzu's latest video

About Shimadzu

Shimadzu is a world leader in the design and manufacture of products and services within a broad range of fields including bioresearch.  The company's commitment to the philosophy of "contributing to Society through Science and Technology" forms its common managing concept throughout the world: "Solutions for Science since 1875".  Instruments for analysis and measurement in industry and research, environmental testing and other bio-related equipment, and semi-conductor and media related equipment and software services are within Shimadzu's portfolio.

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