As a listed company with a shareholder structure characterized by the presence of institutional investors – without a dominant major shareholder – GEA defined the classic stakeholder group, i.e., the “shareholders”, as “capital market”.
2016 saw the second edition of “GEA Voices”, the company’s employee engagement survey. Employees were asked for their opinion on corporate image, line manager, leadership and strategy, human resources development, sustained commitment as well as customer orientation. The response rate (proportion of the company’s workforce worldwide) amounted to 80 percent. In 2017, GEA conducted a comprehensive analysis of the results with measures being defined. For this purpose, each manager responsible for an organizational unit received his or her own report in February 2017 provided that a minimum of six of their employees had participated in the survey. The findings reaffirmed GEA’s previous strengths that had been identified as a result of the first survey back in 2013, namely operational efficiency, sustained commitment and staff retention. In the opinion of its employees, GEA has specifically enhanced its performance in the field of customer orientation. By April 2017, all employees had been informed about the results of the staff engagement survey. In addition, the respective organizational units organized at least one workshop aimed at deriving relevant measures. This was followed by a combination of global and local measures. In total, more than 1,500 measures were derived from the findings of the employee engagement survey. This allowed the workforce to take an active part in GEA’s development.
GEA asked customers and non-customers in 2016
In 2016, one of the most important stakeholder groups attested to the quality of the products and services delivered by GEA: Customers are most satisfied with machine quality and performance as well as the company’s technical innovations. This is one of the key findings of the second global customer satisfaction survey initiated by GEA. It was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2016.
In total, around 3,500 GEA customers from 41 countries participated in the survey.
For the first time, the poll also included non-GEA customers in selected countries and customer industries. The results of both surveys are incorporated into improvement processes. This global survey is to be repeated at regular intervals in the future. In addition, GEA frequently organizes customer satisfaction surveys at a local level.
Findings for after-sales service
GEA identified room for improvement in the field of claims management. In 2016, some customers had pointed out the absence of a dedicated communication channel for addressing complaints to the competent internal point of contact. As a matter of fact, complaints management within the old GEA organization had been handled differently and is being integrated into a unified system as part of the new OneGEA organization in order to meet the objectives of the new OneGEA organization.
A centralized customer relationship management project was initiated that same year in 2016.
Moreover, this subject-matter is also part of the company’s new global Customer Relationship Management System. A representative of the QHSE Governance team is a member of the central project team.
Follow-up survey for after-sales service 2017
In 2017, GEA conducted a follow-up survey focusing on these topics in eleven countries in which customers had been less satisfied with GEA’s service and complaints management. Following an incident-based approach, customers who had used GEA's after-sales service after July 15, 2017 were asked to answer questions regarding their satisfaction with different aspects of the respective process. And 253 GEA customers did so; they expressed their opinion through an online survey in October and November 2017. In addition, 345 interview results from a survey which is regularly conducted by the Service department in North America were used.
In total, the participants mainly coming from the food, beverage, chemical, dairy farming, dairy processing and pharma industries represent 60 percent of GEA's sales.
Overall, the findings already revealed a slight improvement; apart from that, GEA was able to gain useful insights with respect to further measures that may be taken.