Full service in Singapore

-- FROM THE FULL PICTURE MAGAZINE -- Kongsberg Maritime served over 1000 vessels (port calls and site visits) in Singapore in 2007. A rapidly expanding customer support team plans to go from reactive, to pro-active.

"We have a clear growth strategy in this market. We will have strong double-digit growth here until 2010 and then we hope it starts to stabilize," says Kongsberg Maritime’s customer support manager in Singapore, Tom Eystø.

When Eystø arrived in Singapore early in 2006, he took over a group of just over a half-dozen customer service technicians and engineers. By the end of 2008, he expects to have a staff of over three dozen.

"When I started, I was amazed to see the dedication and good KONGSBERG mentality among our colleagues. As we have grown from a small office to a medium-sized company, we need to organise ourselves a bit differently, and work smarter to serve our customers better," says Eystø.

Booming region

Singapore saw upwards of 170,000 port calls last year. Over 5,000 vessels visited the country's stalwart ship repair yards. And the flow of newbuildings from China often uses the voyage to Singapore to work out warranty claims. That sums up to a strong demand.

"Many vessels carry Kongsberg equipment, and our region stretches from Pakistan to New Zealand. We have separate offices handling Korea and China, but that still leaves us with a tremendous amount of work over a broad geographical area," says Eystø.

For Eystø, the goal is to build up an organisation, backed by a fully-stocked spare parts inventory that can act proactively towards the region's heavy traffic. The target is to become pro-active: If a vessel due for a software update is on its way to port in Singapore, Eystø's team could contact it before arrival and arrange for rapid service during its stay.

"It means we need the right parts, people and knowledge ready to go. It's something we're working towards right now."

Full picture service

Kongsberg Maritime focuses on increasing its service reach in Asia by building up its own resources in key ports like Singapore, training up its agent network across the region and strengthening its training offer to users.

Kongsberg Maritime has nearly 50 sales agents in the Asia region, ten of which are customer support agents. Eystø has been sending groups of these agents up to China, where some of Kongsberg's best engineers are working, and teaching. Particularly in high-growth markets for Kongsberg, like India, the strong agency network will be crucial.

The best and cheapest repairman for simple jobs is, of course, the user. By increasing its training offer to users, Kongsberg Maritime can help customers sidestep some service calls. In 2007, around 150 users trained on DP and ICS classes in Singapore, and this is due to increase with the creation of a dedicated training manager.

"We've invested considerably through the years to get highly skilled technicians and customer service engineers. A vital factor is these people's determination. Our team comes in early and no one leaves until the job is done, even if it's midnight or later. It's service-mindedness and commitment, and I believe it sets us apart," says Eystø.