Swissness in Sales Service
Finding the balance in diversity
Whether it’s watches, chocolate, the hospitality sector or the railways: Swiss products and services enjoy an excellent reputation the world over. They are a byword for precision, reliability and top quality. And here at Schaerer we live out these Swiss values too – combined with an absolute focus on the customer – from product development right through to customer service. We have taken this idea as a jumping off point to hear from our staff in the “What is so Swiss about Schaerer?” series. Here in instalment four, we interviewed Tanja Annaheim, who has been Head of Sales Service, Coordination and Demand Planning since 1 September. Tanja, who is Swiss with Thai roots on her mother’s side, loves learning about different cultures and meeting people all over the world – in both a professional and a personal capacity. Her travels and her job working with international customers have made her more tuned in to Swiss values, and for Tanja there are two typical traits that stand out: punctuality and reliability.
What do you and your department do at Schaerer? What are you responsible for, what do you do on a daily basis?
Previously I worked in the Sales Support & Export department, where I helped our partners based in Asia and Oceania, along with our subsidiaries in Japan, with everything from order processing to invoicing and dispatch. It was an exciting and challenging job in equal measure and one for which I needed to be completely focused on the customer and processes, but also be sensitive to the different cultural backgrounds of our partners. In my new role as Head of Sales Service, Coordination and Demand Planning, I lead a team of five and together we are responsible for coordinating all enquiries and processes relating to exports. We also make sure that orders for our customer projects all over the world can be fulfilled according to the forecasts provided by the national companies. In the USA, for example, our customers include large chains such as well-known convenience stores and petrol stations. Big orders like these can comprise hundreds of coffee machines, which are all equipped according to individual customer requirements. Accurate demand planning is therefore essential for producing and delivering the machines to schedule – especially as we ship from Switzerland to 40 countries all over the world.
Let’s talk about “Swissness”: how would you define “typically Swiss”?
I would describe it like this: we Swiss feel incredibly committed to our work or whatever else it is we are doing – both personally and professionally. There are two character traits that go hand in hand with this feeling and which, to me, are typically Swiss: punctuality and reliability. But this is usually where the biggest differences become apparent when working with customers and partners from other countries. On the one hand, people in Southern Europe or the USA seem to be kind of amazed by the Swiss sense of duty. But on the other hand, I do sometimes get the feeling that it’s exactly this character trait that can be overwhelming to my counterparts from elsewhere in the world. To cooperate successfully on an international level – whether inside or outside of the company – it is therefore all the more vital to find the balance in our different cultural backgrounds and values.
And are these two values reflected in your day-to-day work at Schaerer?
Oh, definitely! With our coffee machines we are supplying our customers with high-quality products, from the technical equipment through to the design. Reliability is really important here, both as it relates to our technology, which needs to reliably prepare top-quality coffee specialities, and to our service, which ensures the machines run without a hitch. For example, we supply spare parts from Switzerland to over 40 countries, so that is where “punctuality” comes in. We aim to dispatch the required parts to our subsidiaries and (service) partners as quickly as possible. That is why the goods go out on the same day they are ordered – if required by express delivery. For lots of companies that is not a given, but for us it certainly is. What’s more, we are continually optimising our processes so we can give our customers our very best. And if we do ever experience delays, such as when supply chains were disrupted during the pandemic, we let our customers and partners know early on. My own personal standard is this: at the end of each working day, I must have provided all the relevant information to my contacts in all time zones around the world, so they can start their own working day well prepared and well informed.