Daikin Applied UK: One manufacturer’s “revolutionary” shift to service

By adopting a digital, cloud-first strategy, Daikin Applied UK has created a truly connected customer value chain and a market-leading competitive advantage.

Modern business buildings Skyscrapers Glass - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Daikin Applied UK is the market leader in energy efficient AHU, chiller products and service & maintenance – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Daikin Applied UK is a market leading designer, manufacturer and supplier of technologically-advanced and energy efficient commercial air handling and chiller systems.

The Northumberland-based business is part of a global organisation with more than 90 production bases and customers in 150 countries. The group offers a diverse product offering, with Daikin Applied UK specialising in large, complex, bespoke systems.

The business operates in an increasingly crowded and competitive industry, one that operates on low margins, with customers that are becoming increasingly demanding.

“Our aim is to become the undisputed number one applied air conditioning manufacturer in the UK; but competitive pricing, a good product portfolio and great people are only part of the puzzle,” John McCarthy tells The Manufacturer.

“We also need to understand where the market is going, react quickly to changing needs, and offer a bespoke yet seamless experience to every customer.”

John McCarthy is the national after sales manager at Daikin Applied UK and leads the team responsible for transforming the business’ approach to sales.

The Manufacturer recently caught up with John to learn more about Daikin Applied UK’s ‘revolutionary’ shift from a traditional make-sell business model to focus on offering a more outcome-based service proposition.

What inspired Daikin Applied UK’s adoption of advanced digital technologies and cloud computing?

John McCarthy: Our sales team handle deals worth up to £7m and sales cycles that can last up to three years. Our deals can be extremely large and complex, with quotes that are frequently revised in line with a changing project scope.

To keep on top of every sale, traceability and diligence are vital – particularly in our industry.

Industry 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Smart Manufacturing Data Analytics Digital Transformation Connected value chains - stock image
Daikin Applied UK realised it needed to invest in a robust, scalable and agile CRM system.

We realised that we needed to invest in a robust, scalable and agile customer relationship management [CRM] system, one that centralised customer accounts and opportunities, pipeline management, engineer scheduling, inventory and so forth, rather than relying on unconnected, disparate spreadsheets.

Thanks to Salesforce Sales Cloud and more recently Field Service Lightning, we are connecting our product sales with our service business with the aim of driving lifecycle revenue for each of our products.

The platform offers greater automation and control, more customer touch points and feedback channels, and ultimately allows us to easily manage and measure the metrics that count.

Overall, it represents a much more dynamic and modern approach. As the business has progressed along its digital roadmap, we’ve streamlined operations, removed the double or even triple-handling of information and built in best practice at every opportunity.

What are some of the tangible benefits Daikin Applied UK has realised? 

Through Sales Cloud, our sales team has experienced a far more streamlined approval process, more accurate forecasting and better customer data. Using Salesforce shows everyone what’s going on in the business, drives the right behaviours, and helps us make smarter, faster decisions.

As well as improving visibility, the platform has also freed up sales teams to spend more time with customers and better understand their needs. We’ve cut the time it takes to create a quote in half with Salesforce CPQ [configure, price, quote], which is no mean feat given the complexity of our orders.

Recognising that responding quickly to a quote request can mean the difference between winning a deal and losing out, our team also makes strong use of the Salesforce mobile app to view and update customer information on the road, rather than having to sit at their desk.

With all customer information in one place, Daikin Applied UK can deliver intelligent sales and service – from phone to field. By empowering our frontline engineers to offer customers digital services from their tablets, including signing job sheets and requesting new quotes, we’re revolutionising the customer experience.

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Daikin Applied UK operates in a competitive market; what’s the secret to standing out?

Added value is critical. It goes without saying that we treat our customers with the utmost care and respect; but we also keep them constantly informed by providing them with the same level of visibility we ourselves benefit from.

Operating costs such as energy and maintenance typically account for 85% of a unit’s total lifetime cost; so, undiscovered energy waste and incorrect operation can significantly increase costs and even lead to unscheduled downtime. Most of our equipment has the capability to relay performance back to our service centre through a remote monitoring system called ‘Daikin on Site’.

So, we’re currently exploring how to bring data from Daikin on Site into the Salesforce platform and start making pre-emptive decisions. If an engineer arrived on site and said, ‘Your machine has fallen out of its typical envelope of operations three times in the past hour; I was in the local area and I’ve come to investigate what’s going on,’ not many companies would turn them away, quite the opposite. That represents a real market differentiator for us.

How is the technology allowing you to track not only what the market needs today, but what it might need in the future, and then respond accordingly?

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Leveraging data to offer customers added value services is critical in increasingly crowded and competitive markets.

As the adoption and quality of our data rises, the information captured in Salesforce is starting to unveil a richer picture of how the sales team is performing, and which approach or products are getting the best result.

As well as tracking successes, the team is also capturing losses to unlock important insights regarding market trends and demand.

We can now identify the products that customers are repeatedly requesting but may be missing from our portfolio. We’ll have the hard figures to back up our gut feelings, so we know where to invest and innovate.

What does the future of field service look like?

In a nutshell, connectivity – which relies on embracing the power of cloud. With customers increasingly demanding a seamless end-to-end experience, having a great product is no longer enough.