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April 12, 2023 | 25 Mins Read

Electrolux’s Consumer-Centric Transformation

April 12, 2023 | 25 Mins Read

Electrolux’s Consumer-Centric Transformation


Sarah welcomes Kristoffer Brun, Service Operations Product Manager at Electrolux, to discuss how the company is transforming across the board, including service, in a consumer-centric way and the impact those efforts are having on service execution.

Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Nicastro. Today we're going to be taking a look at Electrolux Consumer-Centric Transformation. I'm excited to be joined today by Kristoffer Brun, who is the service Operations product manager at Electrolux. Kristoffer, welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast.

Kristoffer Brun: Thank you very much. Hello.

Sarah Nicastro: So this is your first time here on the podcast meeting, Kristoffer, but he and I have had a number of conversations and he, alongside one of his colleagues, spoke last year at the Stockholm Future Field Service live tour event. So happy to have you with us before we get into the story of the transformation that you have underway, just tell everyone a little bit about yourself, your role and the Electrolux business.

Kristoffer Brun: Yes. I can start with saying that I'm really looking forward to the next Future of Field Service event. So yes-

Sarah Nicastro: Thank you.

Kristoffer Brun: ... looking forward to it. I joined Electrolux over four years ago. It was actually not my first contract with Electrolux though, because I spent two summers during university working in one of our factories where actually my brother worked at the time as well. So I already had a personal connection to the company before joining this time, I should say.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, and a family connection.

Kristoffer Brun: Indeed.

Sarah Nicastro: Now he is not still with Electrolux, is he?

Kristoffer Brun: No, nope.

Sarah Nicastro: No. Okay.

Kristoffer Brun: Yeah. But overall, Electrolux group leading a global appliance company, brands such as Electrolux, of course, AG, Frigidaire in the US and more than a hundred years old, we celebrated a hundred years a few years ago. Headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, where I'm based. And I am working as a product manager for service operations tool and processes in Europe. And in Europe we have a landscape within service operations where we have both employed the service technicians and also of course service partners. So within a country, we can have a mix of both employed service engineers and service partners.

Sarah Nicastro: Okay. All right. Okay. So that lays the land. Now, I think one of the most important things you said there is a hundred year legacy. And transformation is hard overall, but it can be particularly hard for companies that have this deep rich legacy because you're really digging in and changing the way that people have worked for quite a long time. Now, at Electrolux, I love the way that this transformation is structured because it's, in my opinion, the way it should be done. It's not a transformation for transformation's sake or this concept of, well, we just need to be modern, so let's do X, Y, and Z. It's consumer centric, so it's centered around your customers, how their needs, expectations, preferences have changed, and then matching internally how you need to adapt to that in terms of whatever transformation it entails.

So we're going to talk obviously and mostly today about service because it's the future of field service and you're in service. But I guess to start just broadly explain to people, the drivers for this overall company quest of consumer centered transformation.

Kristoffer Brun: I think we are like many companies, and this is a few years before I joined even, but us and also many companies with us at the time, or let's say a decade ago or so, was more or less looking at consumer interaction as a necessary evil. Basically discussing how to reduce consumer contact. While of course, we and many others shifted that mindset to instead, today the Electrolux Group purpose is around the shaping, living for the better, shaping living for the better consumer. We're basically, our products and services are simply helping consumers in their lives. Can be instead of just having an oven instead that we are making great tasting healthy food for friends and family. We help consumers care for their clothes by making them stay new, great looking for longer. These thoughts and messages and visions basically.

And related to that, of course, it means that we would like to have as much data as possible across the consumer journey, and where we can of course also own the touchpoints to a greater extent. And the focus has been for many years now to make it easy for our consumers to interact with us at every stage of their journey with us, from purchase and ownership, et cetera. And with that, we have restructured the entire organization around this new mindset. And of course a lot of initiatives around having the consumer at the heart of the business model, both central of course, but a lot of focus locally out in the countries in how to work in making the consumers happier. So it has been an extremely impressive journey, I must say, although I wasn't part of it from beginning, but just looking at our NPS and CSAT curves, extremely amazing.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And I think, you telling that story is representative of the trajectory of viewing service as a cost center. So to your point, it was not that those customer interactions were a nuisance, but it was something to be minimized. It was something to be as efficient as possible, not something like you're saying now to put at the heart of the business. So an opportunity to understand what do they value, what do they want, and how can we take that insight and use it to differentiate ourselves and to add more value or become their brand of preference, et cetera. So I think what's interesting to me is that a lot of organizations recognize the opportunity of service as a profit center versus a cost center, but for a variety of reasons, they don't actually tackle their transformation through the lens of customer centricity. And so that's what I think is good about Electrolux, is this recognition of, okay, so there's an opportunity to change. We need to do that by orienting what we do around what our customers want, need and value.

A lot of times companies can assume they know, okay, well if we do this, we'll be better. And then our customers will feel that impact, but they're not really positioning the need for that journey around that customer experience. So I think that's a really positive mindset and it's a good anchor for a lot of the change. So we'll get into this a bit later, but change is hard. So if you can tie that to we're doing this for our customers and here's why, here's how versus we're just doing this, period.

Kristoffer Brun: And especially if you're doing it as an organization instead of just one or two roles within the organization that should drive this and try to influence the others here. We basically restructure the entire business model purpose, organizational structure, all of it. And I think of course, that it takes a lot of courage to do that and a lot of hard work, obviously. But yeah.

Sarah Nicastro: Especially from a business that has a hundred years of history. I was being interviewed by someone the other day that's working on a thesis and they're looking at different service business models and they said, "Well, what's the difference between a company that will take this on and a company that won't?" And I said, "Honestly, a lot of it is leadership, it's mentality." Because to your point, complacency is very appealing for a lot of folks. And it does take courage to change. And I think this journey that you're on is one that people will have to embark on one way or another at some point, but making the decision to do it proactively and go this road is definitely courageous. So this is a journey at Electrolux to the point we just talked about. This is not just a service transformation, it's a company-wide, consumer centric transformation. Obviously service plays a big part in that. So let's talk about that part specifically. What is the contributing factors of service and how have you looked at the ways in which service needs to evolve to contribute appropriately to the company's mission?

Kristoffer Brun: I mentioned the purpose before and beneath the purpose, we have also three drivers. So that is act as sustainable, create better experience, and always improve. And I think service operation ties into actually all of these three drivers one way or another. So it actually plays quite a big part in our overall strategy. And in short, it's all about the consumers today and always has been I guess, they expect a smoother service appointment booking. So if something is wrong with my appliance, I would like it to be easy to book a visit. Obviously, since it's an appliance, I very often would like a technician to be here as soon as possible and with information and reminders perhaps leading up to the visit. And I also expect that the technician should solve it first visit, because otherwise I can't cook for another two days or whatever that can be.

And obviously on top of that, I expect the technician to be tidy, professional, et cetera. And our technicians, they have an extremely difficult task at hand here because they are in some of the most private environments of all consumers bathrooms or kitchens, basically. Often, the consumer needs to be home and they are often quite interested in what a technician is doing and worried, of course. Will I be able to do the laundry tonight or not, basically. So it's a quite stressful experience. If you think about it from that perspective, considering service technician in other industries, for example, B2B with a planned maintenance, et cetera. But basically, we needed tools and processes that could support this to meet the consumer's expectations around this. So for example then, we needed an optimization engine that could help us utilize the technicians in a way that we could reach maximum number of consumers in a day or give them the act sustainable aspect, for example, drive less kilometers per job. So yeah, it ties into so many of the company’s overall strategy basically.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. And it's interesting, this evolution that we've seen in the way customers were approached, perceived, communicated with 10, 15 years ago versus today, the expectations are significant for a brand like Electrolux to keep up with. And I think that it bleeds into a B2B environment for sure. The expectations we have in our personal lives are influencing the expectations in the B2B service landscape, but consumers of all, the tolerance level is very low because we've just become accustomed to the real-time visibility and the ease of logging onto an app and all of those things so it's a lot to keep up with.

So you're looking at, okay, how do we take these expectations? And in part, part of the solution is leverage technology that will help us manage that complexity so that the outcome for the customer is a seamless experience being there as quickly as possible, first time fix, et cetera. So you landed on IFS as your service management provider, and then a few weeks into the project COVID hits. So that's a major, major disruption at the beginning of what is already a very big transformation project. So talk a little bit about what that meant and how you adapted and managed to move the project ahead and stay focused on the transformation.

Kristoffer Brun: Yeah, I actually remember more or less when COVID hit the project, say it was a Friday evening and we had planned a workshop the week after in Stockholm, physical workshop where people were flying in from all of Europe. And this Friday afternoon we all received the text messages from Electrolux basically with the instructions around physical meetings with immediate effects. So of course the chat, it was quite a crazy Friday evening from that sense. But we basically moved it from physical then to online within just a few hours. And Electrolux, at least in Swedish standards. They were very early and very proactive when this hit. And we were actually weeks before other companies in limiting physical meetings and really putting our own restrictions in place before actually it was forced upon us basically. I must say, I was very impressed by how that was handled by the company.

And of course also we had office restrictions immediately as well. But I think also that moving one day to another from physical meetings to online meetings only, we were also able to come together as a group very well, although a very big group, but we were able to do that in a very short amount of time, I must say. And it can be a natural effect with a external threat like COVID, right? But we really did it and we had a great team doing the best with the situation at hand, basically. And we have been struggling as well to find our new ways of working in the new world, especially on the meetings booked versus meetings needed, and I guess at least other organizations to struggle with that as well, because in an online world it's so much easier to book an appointment with.

And it's also easier to add more people than really needed because it's just a click away to add one more instead of meeting in a room face to face. Because if you do that, everyone should be contributing more or less, but it's slightly different online. And of course, we sat centrally, both in Stockholm in the headquarters and working remote with a local pilot country implementing a solution that was new to us, new to them. So of course we would like to have met the local organization much, much more. And of course the end users, but also the local project team. But I must say that I'm very impressed in how everyone involved in this exchange and the positive attitude, I must say, because the local team came from an unsuccessful pilot just before this pilot where they rather than complaining, just went on the horseback again, more or less, and delivered this pilot instead with very good business results so far. Very, very good transformation work.

And I think that this was a part of that success. The pilot country and all the other countries that will be using the solution, were part of making the decision, which solution to go for. So we involve all the end, I wouldn't say the end users, but the countries that will be using the solution. We involve them all in the decision process with the central people of course as well. And on top of that, of the local team, we have the central team based in several countries and working in imperials more or less day and nights to deliver. So it has been extremely impressive to see also from the big change that COVID brought on top of everything else that needed to be done, basically.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. All right. So you have the central teams and the local teams working together. You mentioned that prior to deciding to implement IFS, you had had a pilot of a different solution that failed. And so I think that's important to mention just because it contributes to the complexity of managing the change. So I think it is amazing that the teams reacted the way they did because they could have just been frustrated by that experience and let that blend into negativity and instead, like you said, got back on the horse, they were invested in this project and choosing a solution and all of that. But I think to have to change gears and do this entirely remotely is really, really tough because this idea of change management is really the biggest challenge most companies face in a service transformation. And so removing the opportunity to interact in person, but like you said, when you're doing it remote, there's so much that changes.

People can hide in the meeting and not contribute. It's harder to read if people are okay or if they're frustrated or if they're struggling. There's all these things that become more complex. So I think it's incredible that you all pulled together and stayed focused and figured out how to navigate that and still progress. Is there anything from that experience that stands out as a lesson learned? How do you think particularly the local teams, what do you think it was about their minds that allowed them to not get negative but stay focused on moving ahead?

Kristoffer Brun: I think it's very much and leadership question this. And the attitude and the atmosphere that we leaders and of course also locally in that country provided and was the messages that they were sending locally basically. And I must say also, it's quite impressive that we dared to say that the previous solution was not what we wanted and let's take another route because that is expensive, that is time-consuming, that is a hard way out. Instead of trying to fit whatever process into a solution that is not really fit for that purpose. I'm sure that other companies and ourselves likely in the past would've gone that route instead because that is easier. We have invested so much to this point, so let's continue to do that instead of just taking a completely different route. And I think also that mindset together with that this country and all the countries were part of the new solution, the new route forward, that also led to that mindset, to that approach in the end. Because everyone got what they wanted this time, it's safe to say.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, you're absolutely right. That is a hard decision to make. And maybe part of the mentality going into this project was unappreciation for the fact that the company was willing to start fresh and say, "Okay, let's get what we need to get. And we're listening, we hear you that this isn't going well, so let's stop and work together to find the right thing." Yeah, that's a really good point. So another aspect you shared with me that I thought was really interesting and impressive is that 50% of the European implementation team working on this project are women, which is awesome, and not always the case or often the case in service. So I'm curious, your thoughts on how do you feel like having that diversity of thought contributed to the success of the project?

Kristoffer Brun: First of all, Electrolux Group is working extremely hard as a company with what we call diversity and inclusion where agenda is one part and it's part of the yearly sustainability report available on our website. And the vision there is to become a leader in diversity. And we do a lot of initiatives around this internally of course, but also externally. So we partner with a yearly event in Stockholm called Women in Tech, for example. And the past few years at least, I've seen an increase within the share of women working in the products without being involved at least. So I'm quite impressed by this. You can see that we as a company are succeeding in this. And traditionally, we talk about contact center, mainly women and service operations, mostly men. And I think that is changing. It's changing now, and it's changed since I joined this has changed. So just the four and a half years where I've been here, I see a big change in this.

And of course if we take it also to also other nationalities, if we take that approach, we have a central team based in a variety of countries across Europe, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Denmark, and also in the Stockholm headquarters, we have so many nationalities working under the same roof. So it's a fantastic mix of both nationalities and locations and gender, I would say. And of course we have effects of that in terms of not being as streamlined. New angles, new ideas or creativity I guess is the word I'm looking for. So there are a lot of synergies to come from this. And of course it could be easier to do if you are a really big company, of course. But I think it's quite cruel to be a part of a company working very hard with this. I think it's for the employees, it's something to be proud of, I think.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, and I think if you take it back to the overall mission we're talking about, which is this consumer-centric transformation, I have to imagine you have diverse consumers. And so-

Kristoffer Brun: Yes.

Sarah Nicastro: ... putting a focus on creating an organization that is representative of your customer base helps a lot with being able to bring in different perspectives of what would be helpful in the transformation. And I think that companies, DEI is a huge topic right now, but it's one that there's a big difference between companies that are just paying attention to it to check a box and companies that are making real progress. And I think that progress comes from a recognition of how the diversity of thought, it's not about we need X percent women, we need X percent, this type of person, this type of person, et cetera. It's about knowing that the more diversity you bring in, the more creativity, the more perspective, insights, skill sets, and the better that helps you be if you're looking to innovate and transform and evolve. So I think that's really cool. And I think 50% women in service operations in a European team is a really, really good example of that work paying off and benefiting the organization.

Kristoffer Brun: Indeed.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. All right, so here we are midway through the journey or partway through the journey, and Electrolux has some guiding principles in place to keep you focused on the consumer centric transformation initiative. And so I just want to talk a little bit about what those are, where you are today, what your thoughts are on what comes next, okay. So I'm going to list them off and then you just talk about however you want to talk about. But they're the consumer experience, the employee or what you often call end user experience. The idea of exceptions only, meaning automate whatever's possible to automate, information sharing and collaboration and performance visualization. So these are like the five pillars. So can you share a little bit about where you're at, where you're going and how you're using those principles to stay focused?

Kristoffer Brun: And I can mention that this is the service operations product mission and our base try also to connect the overall strategy from the company overall business model into how our processes, functionalities, and features basically fit into the big picture. And I don't really have the how to all of these yet. So it's basically themes where we would like to evolve, where we would like to build. And I can say that we're not running short of things we want to do at the moment, but rather it's a hard work of prioritizing it. But we can start with the heart of the business model, again, the consumer experience and remember that they would like us to be there as quick as possible, solve it first to try being informed, leading up to the visit. And we have seen, very, very good results in both CSAT and NPS since Go Live and functionalities here will of course be going forward, route optimization engine, the new functionalities coming there.

So there of course I wouldn't very... Where I will explore future possibilities with IFS going forward in how we can make that even better. And of course, also how can we forecast our workforce in terms of what happens with the different scenarios. So what happens if service repair volumes drops by 20%? What would that mean in terms of our workforce forecasting? Because the data is there in the system and we are doing this outside the system, but how can we tie those processes and tools now together? And maybe we have some machine learning, maybe we have some AI on top of this as well. So I think we have a lot of possibilities going forward in that area.

If we then go into the end user experience, and to your point, it can be both employed but also service partners, but the end users, they would like a system that is intuitive, efficient and value adding. And basically here we're looking into also connecting everything in one place. So if we have a system where everything then user needs in their daily work, and also it could be less frequent such as working with electrolytes. What do I need there? What kind of systems? What information do I need as a service partner? Then everything should be one place. The time needs to be over very soon at least where a user or working with Electrolux need, I don't know, five, 10 different logins to different places. Sorry I don't remember where now, but I read somewhere, the technicians are not afraid of technology. They are afraid of bad technology. And I think that's our responsibility not to bring bad technology.

Sarah Nicastro: I agree.

Kristoffer Brun: Yeah, and very quickly you mentioned it, but around the automation and validation exception handling, basically, I think, and this ties back also to one of the drivers around always improve, because we should all always review our processes and see whether we can reduce repetitive work and instead move to more value adding work. Because we should basically always reserve capacity to improve these things, but because it's so easy that you define a process, you go live and then that's it basically. And then you work on new things. But I think, and this is of course tightly connected also to the end user experience, but here we will have a lot to do always, I should say.

Sarah Nicastro: Just keeping up the date and continually improving, like you said. Yeah.

Kristoffer Brun: Yes. And also of course, preventing end users to enter incorrect combinations of different fields, et cetera. it's quite easy to prevent that these days.

And if we go then to information sharing and collaboration, it's basically a statement, and this is my statement I guess, but basically new technology enables new ways of sharing information, and collaborating, and driving business results. What can we do with that? What can we do with this new technology? And one of the questions we are working with is around how can we provide the employee technician or our service partner technicians with just enough details to successfully execute the service repair? And that is basically information of course from the consumer during the booking for information from the past, from similar visits, and of course also with the experience we have with this consumer, et cetera. But how can we tie everything together and share that information to prepare the technician for the BC as well, the examples.

And in term of terms of the last team, performance, visualization and reporting KPIs, dashboards, et cetera. But one thing I really would like to begin to one day is gamification and basically what gamification within a service operations landscape could look like. And here if there are others out there with this experience, I'm very interested. But basically, how can we make our teams, our end users, competing with each other’s, with themselves? Three, for example, could that be something to look into? You completed 10 successful visits in a row. Here's a, I don't know, a recognition at least, or a notification around it. And also I would like to build it evolving around the consumer. So rather than focus on how many visits we have executed, for example, look at it, how many consumers we have helped. So tying back to the consumers and face there as well. But that would be really interesting to look into.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So like you said earlier, there's no lack of things you'd like to do, it's just a matter of moving ahead. And I think that's good. It's really representative of how the use of technology has changed. Similar to, we talked about where consumers were a decade ago versus today, technology a decade ago versus today, you used to take a solution, deploy it, let it do its thing and move on to something else. And with the sophistication we have today, there's always ways to continue to improve upon what you have and look for, okay, well we have this capability, I bet we could also use this in this way or over here. So the goal isn't to just put something in place, achieve the minimum possible performance and then let it roll. The idea is to invest in a solution that you know can get more out of overtime and can grow with the business. So that makes sense. And it's good to have a to-do list keeps us busy.

Can you just share quickly, you're still in the process of deploying the service management solution, but what have you seen so far? Where are you at with that today?

Kristoffer Brun: Two things on top of mind. First one is the importance of involving the end users. And maybe no use these days, but if we do the whole work beforehand, if we understand where they come from and the current processes, their current challenges. Because if we can tackle a few of these, we already have a quick wins in the transformation journey already there. And if we can have them involved across basically from business requirement gathering to design phase, and then from there on, we already have a win there because they have been part of this and we haven't made this stupid central, this bad technology basically what I referred to earlier. So we have a win already there also on the transformation side of it. And on top of that, we have better processes. So I think it's a given.

And the second one is around simulation beforehand. We now have a system which offers this. And I think the times we spent before Go Live simulating different scenarios, simulating different optimizer settings. It paid off Go Live because we didn't impact the consumers in that extent that we could have done if we went live and then set the mix with the settings afterwards basically.

So I'm quite confident that we had a positive impact on the consumers actually. And of course from a transformational side here as well, if we involve the key users that will be working with the resource optimizer, they are involved in these simulations, so they build understanding from the tool. They had the ownership of the settings earlier and we also have that already from that point, instead of having that from the goal line or from the training later on.

Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. Now, you mentioned earlier that you've seen improvements in CSAT and NPS. What about the objectives of increasing visits per day, reducing kilometers per job? Where are we at as far as achieving those objectives?

Kristoffer Brun: So we have seen a positive impact in both of these areas as well. So we are doing more service repairs per job now, service repairs per day than before. And of course driven kilometers is also less now. So we have seen both of them from the Go Live, which is of course really impressive.

Sarah Nicastro: And I think the goal is looking at those things and how they all intersect. So with a tool like IFS, PSO, so that's what we're talking about, an AI-based planning and scheduling optimization. The goal is to be able to do more visits per day, but not just to do them, to do them in a way that ties to those increases in CSAT and NPS or contributes to that and to reduce miles without affecting that consumer experience. And so that goes back to the objective is to do these things, to make these improvements within the business that all contribute to this better consumer experience. So it's not about, well, we achieved one of these goals, but unfortunately we didn't hit the other two. If you can do it the right way, you can achieve them simultaneously. So last question is, for you as a leader, what is the most important lesson you've learned in this journey?

Kristoffer Brun: I know that I sound like Michael Scott in the TV series The Office or David Brent for UK listeners, but it is to have fun. And basically what does that mean in this context? Basically in implementations like this, I would argue independent of company, that everyone is under a lot of pressure, at least during time periods. So basically how can we as leaders support our teams, especially like we talked about earlier today in an online world. And how can we recognize good behavior and good performance, and how can we motivate, how can we inspire in front of a webcam? And I think definitely if we as product managers now in this case for the Field Service operations, we are responsible basically to connect what we are doing to, in this case, Electrolux groups business model and strategy. Everyone needs to be on the same page. What we are doing today impacts the entire business model, how the entire vision, how the entire strategy.

And I think in order to have more fun, or at least to be more motivated, we would need to have a clear and understandable product mission connected to this strategy so we understand why we are building what we are building, why this feature is important. And of course, like we said, a sense of belonging in an online world, it's hard. Just a few years ago we shook hands and as hello to in a meeting, and now the standard hello phrase is, can you hear me? And I think we have a lot of things still to do here in this online oriented world, and I learned a lot, but I guess I fortunately have a lot to learn around that as well.

Sarah Nicastro: I think that's such a good answer because you're right, the transformation itself is pressure. Obviously we talked about how that was compounded in this case by COVID hitting, which was an immense amount of stress and angst for a lot of people on top of work. And there's always going to be something, right? And so looking for the opportunities to have fun. And as a leader, remembering that in so many ways, your attitude and your mindset sets the stage and people will mirror and mimic that. So if you can look for ways to be enthusiastic and celebrate the wins, even the little ones, and have fun and make people feel connected, then it's a lot easier for them to handle that change and to show up with the mindset of, yeah, we can do this because we're all in it together versus it being some frustrating task that they're being mandated to do.

So I think that's a really important answer. I like it. Good. Well, Kristoffer, thank you so much for coming and sharing your experiences with our listeners. I always enjoy talking with you and we'll have you back at some point in the future to see where things are at and how the continual improvement journey is going. But in the meantime, look forward to seeing you in Stockholm soon.

Kristoffer Brun: Very good. See you soon.

Sarah Nicastro: All right. You can find more by visiting us at While you're there, be sure to sign up for the future of Field Service Insider, which is how you can make sure the latest content is delivered to you every other week in your inbox. Also, check out the live tour schedule so that you can join us at the location nearest you. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS. You can learn more at As always, thank you for listening.