Honeywell Says Communication Is Key During Covid-19

July 2020

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Honeywell Aerospace’s Customer and Product Support (C&PS) team has recently focused on increasing customer communication even through the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. The C&PS team completed nearly 500 visits of business aviation customers in the EMEAI (Europe, Middle East, Africa, and India) region in 2019 and, substituting video conferencing for on-site visits when necessary, aims to repeat that mark in 2020 despite the pandemic.

“We support 119 countries, so it’s a large and very diverse region with a variety of operating rules, regulations, requirements, and business customs,” said Elie Khatami, vice president, customer and product support EMEAI. “We need to reflect the needs of the operators in terms of flexibility and doing business. A customer operating turboprops in remote areas of Africa needs different care than a Middle Eastern customer flying VIP business jets or a European customer flying midsize jets.”

With headquarters in Switzerland and facilities in more than 20 countries throughout the region, the Honeywell C&PS EMEAI team collectively speaks 17 languages, ranging from Arabic to Afrikaans, Danish to Dutch, and Hindi to Turkish.

“We have customer-support managers and field-service engineers strategically placed to support our customer base,” said Khatami. “Our teams are located close to our customers. In many cases, they speak the language and understand the culture, which is key to building great relationships. For example, one of our customer-support managers based in the Czech Republic covers Russia, so he started learning Russian to communicate better with his customers, even though we have other field-service reps who already speak the language.” 

In addition to customer-support and field-service representatives who speak multiple languages, Honeywell relies on our extensive network of channel partners who are an extension of our support to our customers even when customer aircraft are stranded in remote areas.

“We had an operator who was grounded in Ukraine, which presented some customs challenges,” said Khatami. “We needed to figure out how to get an engine to the aircraft to support our customer. It required a lot of teamwork, coordination with the customer, and work by our channel partner teams to make sure the rental engine arrived and was installed on time.”

When it comes to communicating with customers, Honeywell has lots of experience. Its Global Customer Committee (GCC) is the modern version of a committee formed in the 1970s to focus on technical issues with the TFE731 engine. Now consisting of 70 active members—including corporate pilots, directors of maintenance, and Honeywell Authorized Service Center representatives—the GCC identifies, discusses, and presents issues faced by customers to management for resolution. The GCC’s rolling action item list (RAIL) of the 25 most-pressing problems helps Honeywell prioritize its resources toward solving customer-identified issues. Since GCC inception, the company has resolved nearly 500 RAIL issues.

Khatami is the region’s Honeywell representative on the GCC. “Based on GCC feedback, we’ve launched several global and regional improvement projects, including the MyAerospace portal, increasing the value of inventory stocked regionally by 20 percent over the past year, and starting a webinar series during the Covid pandemic to continue communication with customers when we couldn’t do on-site visits."

Khatami also described the Honeywell MyAerospace portal—which contains links to technical publications, online ordering, order status, product roadmaps—as a “one-stop” where customers can quickly and easily obtain product information related to a specific aircraft. “One of the things that our customers asked us for is the ability to order everything online,” she said. “We’ve recently enabled AOG ordering on the portal for repair orders and exchanges. Plus, we are working to provide more accurate and timely status updates through the MyAerospace portal.”

During Covid-19, the EMEAI C&PS teams have used video-conferencing and web-based technologies to communicate with their customer base. They’ve reminded customers of the need to cycle parked engines for about 15 to 30 minutes every 30 days (depending on engine manufacturer and parking environment), worked with customers to complete planned or mandated upgrades during aircraft downtime, and encouraged customers to use pilot and maintenance technician downtime for training.

“The forced downtime was a great opportunity for pilots to dig into product training and familiarize themselves with the cockpit upgrades that we have available,” said Khatami. “We saw increased interest in our software offerings, including Honeywell Forge for business aviation, which consists of an integrated dashboard supporting a wide range of in-flight connectivity, flight operations, navigation, maintenance, and data- management services.”

The EMEAI team has sponsored two virtual operator conferences during the pandemic. Held June 9 and 11 to allow flexibility in schedules, the free conferences with mirroring agendas included a C&PS update, briefings on mechanical and avionics products, updates and maintenance service plans. A discussion on Honeywell Forge capped the online conference attended by operators in 40 countries.

“The whole Honeywell organization has worked hard to help operators adjust to the new normal with flight-deck cleaning procedures, provisioning of personal protective equipment for crew and passengers, and customizing solutions for individual operators,” said Khatami. “Since we’re not always able to conduct onsite visits in the post-Covid environment, the webinars are where we are counting heavily on feedback from our customers on technical and service issues.”

Operators can register for C&PS online events at aerospace.honeywell.com/en/learn/about-us/events/