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Servitization | Local Service Manager Sandeep from the Indian Sales Region of HLT&DLT: Empowering Services to Deepen Market Penetration in India

loading... 10 Jul 2024
Driven by rapid urbanization and infrastructure upgrades, India has emerged as the world's second-largest producer and consumer of tiles. According to the All India Pottery Manufacturers' Association, as of 2023, India is home to over 1,000 ceramic companies. Per capita tile consumption in India surged to 1.53 square meters per person in 2022, a remarkable 159.32% increase from 0.59 square meters per person in 2021, highlighting the robust growth of India's ceramic industry.
Since HLT&DLT introduced their firing machinery to the Indian market, they have successfully sold over 300 kilns and dryers in less than a decade. Additionally, since 2001, more than 500 presses have been sold in India, establishing HLT & DLT as one of the leading ceramic machinery suppliers in the Indian market. 
In just the first half of this year, 12 kiln complete production line projects have been ignited and put into production. With such a high market presence and ongoing new projects, the workload for both installing and commissioning new production lines, as well as providing after-sales service for existing lines, has become exceedingly heavy. Particularly since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, when Chinese personnel were unable to obtain visas to India, all these tasks have been shouldered by the local Indian service team.
For years, HLT&DLT has relied on a local team of over 30 Indian sales and technical personnel to engage deeply with project sites across India's production regions, swiftly achieving localized sales and efficient service for complete ceramic machinery production lines. 
Today, we introduce Sandeep Kumar Sharma (hereafter referred to as Sandeep), the after-sales manager responsible for the installation, commissioning, and after-sales service of HLT&DLT kilns and dryers. Leading a team of 13 technical service personnel, Sandeep has earned the trust of local customers through his professional technical expertise and meticulous service, successfully completing various tasks.

Technically Outstanding:
Rising from Technician to Head of the Local Service Team
Sandeep joined HLT&DLT on October 10, 2016, the same year DLT was founded, and has thus been part of its growth and expansion in the Indian market.
From its inception, DLT planned to develop a localized technical force in India, quickly establishing a local technical service team. Sandeep worked alongside senior Chinese technicians at customer factories, assisting with installations, commissioning, and resolving after-sales issues. 
During this period, through careful observation and diligent learning, he rapidly amassed substantial technical skills and on-site problem-solving experience. Moreover, Sandeep and other Indian technicians received systematic training from the Chinese technical team, learning techniques for communicating with local customers and handling complex problems and emergencies.

Thanks to the rapid development of DLT in the Indian market, numerous projects provided invaluable growth opportunities for Sandeep and other Indian technicians. By 2019, Sandeep was capable of independently guiding installations, commissioning, and providing after-sales service. 
Standing out among his peers, his technical expertise has been fully recognized by local customers. Previously, Indian customers typically preferred Chinese technicians, specifically requesting them for project installations and after-sales issues. 
However, with Sandeep's continuous improvement in skills and experience, he has become a "technical ambassador" for HLT&DLT in India, earning the trust of local customers who now often contact him first for their after-sales problems.
Due to his excellent technical abilities, Sandeep was promoted to head of the local Indian technical service team in early 2019.
Prioritizing Customer Needs
Providing 24-Hour On-Call Service
In recent years, HLT&DLT's kiln complete production lines have consistently maintained stable growth in the Indian market. The tasks of installing and commissioning new machinery, conducting after-sales visits for existing machinery, and handling emergency issues that arise during customer use constitute the daily service work for Sandeep's team.
According to Sandeep, installation and commissioning, along with after-sales service, together account for about 50% of their work time. In this high-intensity work environment, they prioritize customer needs, staying available 24 hours a day. 
Whenever a customer calls, whether it's the middle of a cold night or early in the morning, they promptly provide targeted technical support. If a customer's workers encounter urgent issues like rod breaks, kiln blockages, tile cracks, or kiln roof collapses due to improper operation, Sandeep immediately dispatches technicians to the site. Many times, because of the strong trust customers place in him, he doesn't hesitate to personally rush to the production site, even in the middle of the night.

In the current Indian ceramic industry, customers place a high emphasis on there is a strong emphasis on achieving high production output and low energy consumption in kilns. The "pursuit of lower energy consumption in kilns" has become a new trend in the Indian ceramic sector. 
While maintaining the existing fuel and raw material formulas, customers often expect to maximize kiln performance to its fullest extent. This is especially evident in small and medium-sized ceramic enterprises in India, where adjusting the kiln is believed to significantly enhance energy efficiency and reduce consumption. This trend presents unprecedented challenges for Sandeep's team. 
They need to optimize kiln parameters according to customer needs to achieve better energy efficiency. Additionally, when kiln adjustments reach their limits, they must skillfully propose enhancements to the raw material formulas. This dual approach aims to achieve more significant reductions in energy consumption.
In this complex process, communication with customers is paramount. Sandeep's team must employ high emotional intelligence and communication skills to ensure that customer needs are met while avoiding any potential conflicts, working together towards the goal of energy efficiency and consumption reduction.
It is widely understood that Indian ceramic enterprises share a common trait: even if service personnel respond promptly to customer needs and rush to the site to handle emergencies, customers still believe that no "after-sales service" has been provided if the problem remains unresolved. "Regardless of how many days and nights you spend on-site, only when the problem is truly resolved will customers acknowledge that you have provided 'after-sales service'; otherwise, they will always believe that you have provided none." said Ms. Shuyan JIANG, Service Manager of DLT Technology in India.
As a result, Sandeep and his team inevitably face immense pressure and occasional frustration during service delivery. They have navigated through situations involving irate customer managers making incessant phone calls and encountered uncooperative staff at customer sites. Despite these challenges, by adhering to the principle of "creating value for customers", Sandeep's team consistently finds ways to overcome difficulties and successfully fulfill their responsibilities.
High Sense of Belonging and Recognition
Empowering HLT&DLT's Market Expansion through Service
Sandeep and his team epitomize HLT&DLT's strategy of "localized service". Tested by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, this team accelerated the localization of services, becoming a vital force in HLT&DLT's Indian market, alongside the local sales team. The frontline local team seamlessly collaborates with the Chinese sales and service management team in the background, collectively driving deep market penetration for HLT&DLT in India.
Sandeep, the Chinese management team praises him not only for his "outstanding technical abilities" but also for his "strong sense of responsibility", "meticulous work", and "sincere and attentive service".
All these qualities stem from his strong sense of belonging and recognition towards HLT&DLT.

As the number of DLT kilns in the Indian market continues to grow, Sandeep has handled numerous project installations, commissioning, after-sales visits, and emergency issue resolutions. He consistently provides prompt feedback on any specific problems encountered with DLT kilns in customer applications to the HLT&DLT headquarters, offering valuable insights. 
This feedback has led to targeted optimizations, enhancing the kilns' suitability for local customer needs and improving their performance. Currently, kilns ignited and operational in India have seen improvements in internal width, refractory material usage, and pipeline layout based on Sandeep's feedback, making them more adapted to local conditions.
As KEDA and HLT&DLT intensify their global market expansion, they are establishing local service teams to deliver proactive service, thereby accelerating their evolution into building ceramic production service providers. Local service elites like Sandeep increasingly highlight their value.
(President Office, KEDA Industrial Group)
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