How has the crisis affected your market?
For the customer service teams, the change was very abrupt. In the space of two days, our customers had to suddenly stop production. In the space of three weeks, 66% of our customers stopped production.
Customers found themselves disoriented because many European companies wanted to begin implementing remote working overnight but they weren’t necessarily prepared for that. So, we had to react quickly. Within a very short timeframe, the Customer Success team launched a task force that allowed us to turn the crisis into an opportunity for Lectra.
Our three objectives for this taskforce were 1) help our customers fight COVID-19 by creating patterns, configure their machines, etc.; 2) show our customers the value of a Lectra contract; and 3) emerge from the crisis stronger than before by training our teams. We deployed this plan worldwide, in Lectra’s five call centers, and, currently, approximately 400 people are involved in this project.
Would you say we will try to go back to normal as quickly as possible or do you think we will need to rethink the world post-COVID-19?
Even if we try to go back to normal as quickly as possible, we won’t succeed. The COVID crisis goes much deeper than we thought; it’s also an economic and societal crisis. It has certainly affected the economy but it also affected people at their core because they have lived through a unique experience: they had to stop working as the majority of countries in the world underwent lockdown. This forced break prompted a kind of introversion for individuals and companies. This introspection should lead to us to the realization that the world after must be different than the world before.
What underpins a return to normal? Ultimately, it is consumers’ reactions. How customers consume will shape how the different industries adapt. I think that, initially, customers will consume differently. We had already begun to see the notion of sustainability taking hold and I think this crisis will reinforce consumers’ desire to consume differently.
Of course we must relaunch the economy but we must do it differently. This is where Lectra has a role to play. Reshoring, digitalization, customization, we have Industry 4.0 solutions. Now more than ever, this crisis shows that the strategic choice we made to embrace Industry 4.0 was the right one.
What has the crisis changed for you or what have you learned personally?
This crisis has shattered any notions of certainty. It has taught us a lesson in humility; we are much more fragile than we realized. In adaptability too. For my team, the switch to working from home happened overnight. Yet, we quickly got our bearings, created new routines and adapted.
Perhaps this forced break was an opportunity to put each thing in its proper place. We can live successfully with less: less consumption, less noise, less traveling. Working from home can function smoothly. Ultimately, I was thrilled with the power of digital tools; they were instrumental in allowing us to continue our normal activities.
This time has allowed me to get even closer to Nature. I have the luck to live in the countryside. My daily walk brought me closer to Nature. Nature is indifferent to this virus; buds will continue to sprout and flowers will continue to grow no matter what happens. Humans, however, are social animals and are nourished by contact with others.