The alternative energy industry is a developing, exciting market sector, with new sites, technology and complexity being added all the time. Today’s supply chain pressures and the very tight labor market result in unique challenges for CNG-Biogas fueling stations and their customers.
In the CNG-Biogas fueling industry, consolidation, acquisitions, and the emergence of new players has resulted in a clear disparity regarding the level and quality of technical support available. A gap in this support – either because of delayed service response or a dearth of technical expertise on the part of the OEM – is a serious issue for many station owners and operators.
Service Response Time
If the OEM provides equipment – and nothing more – it will soon be apparent that the shine is off that new equipment as issues and outages occur. If a service call is ignored or takes two or three times longer to get a response, frustrations will grow, and driver-customers can be impacted or turned away from your station.
In a technical services satisfaction survey conducted by CMD in 2022, timely technical service and emergency service availability ranked very high in importance among respondents. Providing consistent and reliable service support was the #1 most important criteria ranked by station owners and operators.
“Staying connected to customers – through the good times AND the challenges, is a regular part of my day,” says Brad Schmoll, CMD AES Business Development Manager. So, not only do CMD customers have advocacy and support before and during the sale, Brad collaborates with CMD technical service and engineers once the equipment is in the field. The collaboration and follow-up are taken seriously; this is a distinguishing characteristic for CMD.
“We are not the biggest OEM in the CNG-Biogas fueling supply chain, but our focus on our customers and enhancing technology for real productivity sets us apart,” says Brad.
“Customer satisfaction and uptime is our main priority. We have a good track record of working across the aisle – with other suppliers and even competitors, to collaborate and ensure stations get back up and running as quickly as possible,” says Brad.
Going hand-in-hand with responsive and reliable service is the ready availability of commonly needed parts. This actually ranked #2 along with emergency service in the 2022 study.
CMD AES Parts Specialist, Austin Laber, notes the close collaboration with the call center team ensures quick parts fulfillment for customers. “Whether the part is needed at 8 am or 8 pm, our 24/7 call center can be reached,” he notes. “The call center dispatches parts as well as service to customers throughout North America.” He notes that CMD has good relationships with many suppliers, so redundancies can be built in where needed to ensure a supply of the parts customers need.
Because of the close collaboration between our call center and service technicians in the field, we can often communicate when a spare part is used and restock for the customer, to ensure spare parts are always on hand when needed.
Consistent and Focused Support Encourages Technical Solutions
Supporting customers throughout any field issues works like an ecosystem that corrects/adapts to change. As technicians perform service and site audits, they identify opportunities for improvement.
“Our field technicians and call center representatives work closely with our technical bench to identify and collaborate on new solutions,” says Brad. “We work as a team to follow and support our customers’ experiences with our equipment and processes.” Through close follow-up and communication, unmet needs are identified, and new technology solutions are developed and commercialized.
Selling only machinery and ignoring the importance of support not only disservices customers, but it also robs OEMS of growth and development opportunities.
OEM Support Should Help You Grow
A high level of technical support from the OEM ensures station uptime, enhances efficiency and productivity, and supports personnel through accessible and continuing training. These efficiencies enhance profitability, and free up capital and resources for new projects and growth.
An OEM who is invested in customers wants to see them succeed and grow. The OEM ideally provides a relationship that nurtures the business of their customer and encourages them to come back in the future for equipment and technical solutions.
It’s more than the steel or the electronics; more than the brain or robustness or even output of the systems. “Evolving our support and our solutions as our customers’ needs change allows them to rely on us and utilize our skillset to best succeed in the market,” says Brad.
*2022 survey participant