As a contractor or service provider do you provide the best solution for your customers, or is the solution you offer really best suited to you? Do you understand the difference between what a customer says they want, what they really need, and what you want to supply? Do ‘we’ make it easy for them to understand what they really need?
Our customers generally do not care about ‘our’ problems – they have enough of their own.
They just want their problem solved in the best possible way; and of course the ‘best possible way’ is different for each customer! They want a solution. They deserve the best solution.
Does my customer care if I work for a Retail, Commercial or Industrial refrigeration company? Do they know what the difference is? No, they just ask ‘Can you solve my cooling problem?’ Having spent a lot of time explaining their problem to me, what better way to frustrate and disappoint them than to say ‘Ah, you need a Retail/Commercial/Industrial* (delete as appropriate) contractor – sorry we do not do that!
As a truly independent solution provider, at Integral we are free to choose the optimum system designs and equipment selections to achieve the best solution, across all capacities and applications. We can choose from all manufacturers and product ranges. This is a powerful advantage for our customers.
We consider all refrigerants, construction materials, and equipment selections from a full range of technologies and applications, and match the best approach to the specific problem, based on the customer’s definition of what constitutes ‘best’, not ours. This could be lowest total life cycle cost, reliability/availability, environmental friendliness, low capital cost, highest efficiency, low noise, minimum size etc., The permutations of these ‘key drivers’ are almost limitless, but they uniquely define a customer’s expectation of what is ‘best’.
As engineers we fill the world with acronyms and divisions, pigeonholing the world into bite sized chunks that we can deal with. RACHP, M&E, MEP, HVAC, HVACR, Retail, Commercial, Industrial, R1234yf, BIM, CDM, PED, WSE etc., what does any of this mean to an industry ‘outsider’?
Only we (the insiders) understand this ‘language’. We complain that our customers (the users of the systems, and the people who pay us), do not understand our problems. This sounds like medical doctors and scientists giving everything a Latin name – and do we complain about them?
Just think like a customer for a moment- what is the difference between M&E (in a building) and Building Services? When is a refrigeration system Commercial or Industrial (or should it be Retail). Let’s not even mention Domestic!
Even more confusing for our long-suffering customers, is when we try to explain the different types of refrigerants to them and why we have to change yet again! This is never a good start to a ‘plain –English’ conversation. Synthetics or natural – are we discussing refrigerants or breast augmentation?
I begin to suspect that consultants (bless them all) are really just interpreters between end users and ‘the industry’ – trying to make sure that nothing is lost in translation. We insist on discussing ‘degrees C and kW’, and the end users says ‘frozen not chilled pizza and 10 tonnes per hour’.
Like doctors, I am sure that we create boundaries, pigeonholes and technical jargon where none are really needed – ‘Plain English’ would serve us much better; and why stop serving your customer just because the capacity is larger or smaller than ‘your’ normal (and not their normal).
Integral is primarily an engineering service provider. We are in a relationship with the customer for the long-term, and aim to provide the best technical engineering service to support and improve the customer’s business or process.
To achieve that of course we have to understand the customer’s process and refine and innovate with them, for their continuous improvement, and to ‘stay with them’ as they evolve, and not just as ‘our’ industry changes. In this manner we can ensure a trusting, mutually fruitful, long term partnering relationship. Customer service satisfaction is our goal.
We used to be defined as the RAC sector (Refrigeration and Air Conditioning). We now refer to ourselves as the RACHP sector (adding Heat Pumps). What now is the difference between RACHP and HVAC (which I sometimes see as HVACR)?
The ‘cooling’ sector is now involved in heating (and the heating sector now offers refrigeration technology as heat pumps).
We are evolving into Heat Energy Movement engineers, and within Integral we can ‘integrate’ (pardon the pun) this into the wider range of utilities, to become Integrated Energy and Utility Engineers offering the best ‘integrated’ solutions across all the energy and utility needs of our customers.
We choose to embrace change, and respect traditions, whilst thinking beyond them. Who else can do all this across all our traditional sectors and applications?
We work with customers and staff, so if thinking beyond old traditions and definitions interests you – then get in touch with us and we can push some boundaries back together.
David Bostock, Industrial Refrigeration Director