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Meet the Team | Richard

January 29, 2024

Meet the team | Richard

Come and meet him!

[Richard – Customer Service Manager at Thyson]

1. Who are you and what do you do for the business? How long have you worked here?

I’m Richard McDowell, Customer Service Manager, and I joined the business in May 2022, just before the merger between Thyson and Orbital. I was quickly set the task of merging the two Aftermarket service departments in a way that would best support both businesses’ customer base.

Right now, the team has blended well. There’s still a way to go, but we do have a lot of harmonised support activities, where engineers who started out at Orbital now support Thyson-built systems, and vice versa. There’s still a specialism here and there and we’re implementing training where possible. We’ve brought together many of the systems; centralised through a SharePoint platform, so our engineers have got access to the information they need, day and night, e.g. the electrical drawings and General Arrangement drawings. We’ve streamlined the different systems each company was operating, and this has meant we can easily share learnings from support interventions and also track maintenance trends more quickly. It means we’ve been able improve both productivity and administration efficiency, which can only be to the benefit of all our customers.

2. Why do you think your role in what the nZero Group does – process engineering and the solutions they provide – is so important?

The main importance comes from the opportunities for improved service excellence and more tailored support for our customers, which will lead to growth for nZero Group. The key message we want to get across to our customers is around the high levels of aftermarket service we’re able to provide. We have the capability to be as innovative as we want to with what we offer to customers. In other words, we can bring solutions to a customer who has a technical challenge, and our engineers can be as creative as that issue requires, without the physical and economic limitations you expect from something purely physical in its supply. It’s a win/win/win.

The back end of the spring and throughout the summer 2023, we spent a lot of time looking at customer needs and expectations and calibrating that against what we wereoffering. We could see there was a gap in terms of our offering and some customer expectations. It provided the springboard for us to offer an enhanced, new Reactive Service Support Package, created from the feedback we’ve had from customers in the marketplace. It gives them all more options – obviously they get what they pay for – and it means customers can have the service they actually want.

The importance of my role is to recognise the opportunities in the marketplace, meet these needs and customer expectations. This is done bringing together the right teams, skills sets and disciplines from around the business, so our customers get the innovative solutions they need. As we’re dealing with end users and operators, rather than contractors at this end of the business, there are no intermediaries and so we get to support customers at the sharp end, earning customer trust to deliver, and growing the opportunities that naturally follow. We are quite likely to be sat around customers’ tables across from their farmyard, discussing the best way to resolve an issue, making sure we fully understand the customer’s issues. It builds good relationships, and our customers have more appreciation for, and obtain greater benefit from, the solutions we provide.

3. What do you enjoy about the job?

One of the big things is the culture here, the way that the business is open to innovation, and opportunities to improve things, that pervades the way people think and behave. nZero Group has been created out of businesses that grew up from family run businesses, or set up by friends, growing capability in both in scope and complexity, establishing a dynamism that lends itself to being agile, but with room to implement operational efficiencies, that comes with such success. Like everyone else, I really enjoy that I get to bring my experience from elsewhere to have an impact and help improve and innovate the way we currently work here. I also like under promising and overdelivering, which is the opposite of what can happen. And I’ve also got to say, it’s the people. We’ve got some great people. The relationships you get to form beyond the day-to-day work, are great. Unfortunately, geography and having a young family are my only restrictions, as I work from home a lot, so I don’t always make every single social occasion. Even during challenging situations, there’s a level of camaraderie that carries people through and keeps us all pulling together to bring things good.

4. What are the next challenges you’re looking forward to?

It’s going to be growing the non-project aspects of the business. We’ve started to show there’s more to offer in the aftersales market and I’m looking forward to growing that, to going out and expanding that. It’s a vital part of what we do. Projects are rightly proud of what they build and do and the focus that has in the business, but what we’re doing is demonstrating our innovation and customer service in a different way. We also provide feedback based on what we find in the field into new projects on the other side of the business, to support innovation across the next generation of client systems. We’re establishing a formal process for this feedback and that means that the learning we derive, is captured, so customers across the business benefit from the solutions we deliver here. That can even go down to how easily tools can access equipment because of how it’s been mounted. That can make all the difference to a job and how long it takes, and the right tool used at the right moment.

5. Why are nZero Group’s values important to you?

Safety Sustainability Strength Service Success are the values.

Safety has to be the one I mention first. We’re putting ourselves and our colleagues in situations that if not approached in the right way could create a serious risk to safety of people and equipment. So we have to do it right, properly risk assessing the tasks in advance and prior to commencing, empowering our staff to be able to say no when something isn’t safe. That happened this week actually; a site wasn’t safe and so we demobilised our engineer from site after he raised concerns. We then worked with the customer to ensure everyone was happy with the safety measures before returning to site.

Statistically the biggest risk our field team actually face is driving, often for long periods. We’ve invested in a new range of vans and used team feedback as to what they need. Cruise control, air condition, more adjustable seats, and so on. Being comfortable is really important from a safety perspective as well. Success for me is really important, being part of something where your relatively small team has been a big part of the success of the business is a great feeling and something for the team to be proud of. Then seeing our customers being successful because of what we do. That’s great to see too.

There’s the Sustainability aspect as well, to be working in something that’s enabling renewable technology just feels like, especially with my background in oil & gas, I’m doing something that’s going to have a massive impact on my children’s future too. That feels good.

Service is my bread and butter, seeing as it’s in the job title! And the people – our Strength, the depth of knowledge we have for an SME is phenomenal. We’ve got a new Group Service Manager who’s started, multiple new Field engineers starting, and we continue to grow the talent pool within the team and that’s going to further improve Service too.

6. What would you like to see happen in the future for you?

It’s early days in the next growth phase for the Group. I want to focus on growing the commercial agility of the business because there’s so many opportunities out there that we can go after. I’d like to focus on the commercial aspects of the business growth, but making sure we stay true to our values and that family feel internally that makes things flow so well, that’s what I want to see continue and contribute to, being part of what nZero Group achieves and stands for.