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Focusing on the customer to get through COVID-19

China was hit first and fast by the novel coronavirus. As the market recovers, a key lesson learned was the value of dedicated customer service throughout the crisis, writes Tang Xiaobing, senior vice president for operations and the New Equipment Business in China.

April 28, 2020

The unexpected outbreak of COVID-19 has been a daunting challenge for everyone. From the first stage of the epidemic in China, which coincided with the Lunar New Year, our topmost priority has been to safeguard the health and safety of our personnel and to support our customers through this tough time.

The Spring Festival is an important time of celebration, and many of our employees returned to their hometowns to be with their families. Many ended up in quarantine, leading to a shortage of human resources and a significant drop to our production capacity. At the same time, some of our personnel forfeited their annual leave to volunteer and distribute epidemic prevention materials, demonstrating true caring.

In line with the government’s epidemic control policy, everyone stayed at home and performed multiple tasks through remote collaboration. The path of the epidemic was still full of uncertainties, however.

Stepping into our customers’ shoes

Our daily work processes and management methods had to be adjusted very quickly. We had to realign our thinking and take prompt action to protect employees, contact customers, and start preparing to resume work as soon as it was safe. We had to be extremely agile in every move we made.

Our customers, too, were experiencing unforeseen challenges. Their businesses and production were suspended in varying degrees, and they needed our support and understanding more than ever.

I’m proud to say that KONE truly demonstrated its service mindset. We listened to our customers’ needs and placed ourselves in their shoes. We provided KONE 24/7 Connected Services to customers operating critical facilities to make sure the elevators in places like hospitals operated smoothly, and even offered our customers epidemic prevention materials.

Our staff spared no effort reaching out to customers online to understand their situations and needs, and to offer a helping hand however they could. We were constantly in touch with customers and relevant government departments so that we could prepare our employees to resume normal work as quickly as possible.

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“One mind, one heart”

Although the epidemic has not completely subsided in China, our team has overcome many tough challenges with exemplary care and professionalism. This difficult time has taught us valuable lessons, notably the value of dedicated customer service.

Another positive outcome is that our teams have grown closer. Many of our employees had to be quarantined for observation or could not return to work due to travel restrictions. Colleagues took on extra work without complaint. The commitment and solidarity of our employees enabled us to push through this crisis. As the Chinese saying goes: “Nothing is impossible if people are of one mind and heart”.

Bouncing back

Most importantly, I am grateful that all KONE China employees are safe and healthy, which is paramount.

Our business has made a rapid recovery. KONE China’s Shanghai headquarters, KONE Kunshan Park, and our branches across the country have, one after the other, all resumed operations, including the Wuhan and Yichang branches, which were the worst affected. Our orders have bounced back and we have been able to catch up lost ground.

Tang Xiaobing
SVP, Operations & New Equipment, KONE China

About KONE in China
KONE employs more than 20,000 people in China and operates two factories there that deliver products to more than 90 countries and regions around the world. In January 2020, just before the epidemic COVID-19 epidemic escalated, the KONE China team celebrated a major milestone as the Kunshan factory sent off its one millionth customer delivery, a KONE MonoSpace® elevator bound for the Kunming Changshui International Airport.

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