Calling All Marine Customers

Caterpillar marine services and products

Akin Patel

Marine Customer Support Manager
Caterpillar

“We are providing our customers an opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences. We, Caterpillar, want to know and understand areas for improvement. It's worth it for our customers to take a few minutes to provide their feedback because we will have action items from the survey results.”

(713) 895-4246
patel_akin@cat.com


What is Caterpillar hoping to learn from this survey?

Caterpillar is a large manufacturer, and sometimes we don’t get a chance to hear the customer’s voice directly. The majority of the time customers are working with our dealers, who are critical in relaying feedback. We want our customers to feel as though their voice has been heard – especially our marine customers. Most of the planet is covered in water, so their experiences can vary greatly. It’s important to have an in-depth understanding of our customers’ needs and wants.

How will the results of the survey help to influence change in Caterpillar’s marine product support?

A lot of the feedback I receive is focused on actions that need to be completed at the micro and macro levels. With the authentic voice of the customer, we’re able to create action. A customer’s experience is the loudest microphone in our business. We hope that Caterpillar can relay this message to the dealership network – changing perceptions and also moving the market forward.

Why is it important for your team to hear directly from customers?

I am a big believer in customer service. My colleagues on the sales side say that the sales team sells the first engine and after-sales product service and support sells the rest of them. Without direct customer feedback, it would be hard to maintain our position as a market leader.

Beyond this survey, what are other ways that Caterpillar is able to hear the voice of the customer? Trade shows? Industry events?

We attend all major marine trade shows as well as related activities with local organizations and propeller clubs. If you’re not engaged at these events, you aren’t going to remain connected with customers. It’s a tight-knit community and it keeps you up-to-speed with the day-to-day challenges customers are experiencing. When you have a Caterpillar shirt on, the customer definitely feels comfortable coming up to you to talk about their experiences.

What kind of anecdotal information do you hear from customers regarding Caterpillar’s marine engine servicing?

After speaking with a number of customers at recent trade shows, I was delighted to hear that so many had 100 percent of their assets powered by Caterpillar. What continues to keep them with us is the total value of ownership. The quantitative data is that even after 20, 30 or 50 years of use there is little maintenance needed and no major issues. All of this goes right back to the total cost of ownership. With our dealer network, if customers need a part or have service issues, they are able to have their needs addressed quickly. Customers certainly understand the overall value of a premium product like Caterpillar.

What do you hear from customers about your repair practices?

The good news is that our customers know who our dealers are and are very loyal to them. Our dealers are equipped to take care of our customers and are willing to go the extra mile to help them with their needs, including emergency services. For the customers who aren’t looking for service, they also feel as though the service level entity is great for planned maintenance. Many also like to have a connection with experienced technicians. In addition, there are customers who just want to order their parts and complete repairs on their own or have a third party complete them. Those are the customers we’re hoping to hear from in order to better understand how we can continue to improve their experience.

Why is it worth it for a customer to spend a few minutes taking part in this survey?

If the people at Caterpillar don’t know that something is broken, how can we fix it? For example, if the same part fails 10 times, but no one takes the time to tell us, the customer will continue to have issues with the part. Feedback helps us better understand customers and the parts issues that can arise in the field. It helps us build an action plan around key issues and create better customer outcomes.

What else is significant about this survey and Caterpillar’s marine product support offering?

It’s especially important for Caterpillar to reach the customers who visit the third-party vendors. Perhaps it was a specific issue there that drove a customer away. We want to hear all the details. If that customer is only visiting a third-party vendor, we aren’t able to see if there has been more than one failure from a specific part. We’re also hopeful they understand that Caterpillar still wants to work with them to address their needs. That’s why we’re here.


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