Responsible service in a time of travel bans

We are used to always being close to our customers – “Wherever you are, we are”, as we say. So what happens when our supervisors and technicians, who do on-site installation and service, suddenly face restrictions on travelling and visiting customer sites? It comes down to listening to the customer – and a steely focus on responsibility.

The life of a supervisor or technician is often a life on the road. Bags packed, ready to respond to technical issues or install new equipment at a customer’s site, wherever that may be. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, and its closed airports and lockdowns, that changed overnight. Or did it? Let us take a look at how our supervisors and technicians have coped with this new reality to keep delivering the timely service that our customers need.

To install or not to install

Where travel restrictions prevent us from reaching our customers’ sites to install new equipment, we have two options: delay the installation or provide remote support and assistance. Installation can be tricky to perform remotely, however, so the decision in the majority of cases is to postpone it until the situation allows travel once again.

If travel is possible, we have an ongoing conversation between three parties – the customer, the project manager and our head of installation – to determine whether we can responsibly send our supervisors to the site.

But the final say always lies with the person at the centre of it all – the supervisor himself. If he is not comfortable with travelling at the time, we always support his decision. This has not happened yet, however, as the whole team is eager to travel.

Respecting the rules and the customer

As we know from our daily lives, one symptom of COVID-19 is an abundance of new rules and precautions. For our supervisors and technicians, that is no different. Aside from following national health guidelines, they have had to learn a lot of new habits in a short time.

Wearing face masks on site and sanitising every surface they touch has become the standard. But the interaction with the local staff has also changed. Many of our customers at LPG filling plants have separate teams that can replace one another should one be exposed to the virus. This means that supervisors can not talk to one team after being in contact with the other, for risk of contagion.

No two places are the same

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the impact on both installation and service activities has varied greatly from region to region. In South America and Asia, service and installation visits have been held back by travel restrictions, while visits in Europe have been able to continue almost unaffectedly.

In fact, one supervisor in Europe reported that the biggest disruption to his work has been when booking hotels and eating at restaurants during his travels.

Since the beginning of September, however, we have had some supervisors in Bangladesh - and in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of October. South America is slowly starting to open up, such as Ecuador where we have been able to send a supervisor already. In Europe, we are still operating as normal.

Since our team consists of supervisors of many different nationalities, we are able to cover more countries – even with travel restrictions in place. And in countries where we have service hubs, such as France, the USA, Brazil and India, we continue to support our customers with service and installation.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing and developing, we know that guidelines and restrictions will continue to shift as well. However, our service team is well-equipped to adapt and respond to whatever changes may come – with safety and responsibility.

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