“We understand that it’s an uncertain and very much unprecedented time for our customers, and over the course of the last few weeks we’ve been supporting them by delivering relevant training that helps them to make the best use of their time while projects are on pause,” says Ian Rowell, Protective Coatings Segment Manager for AkzoNobel.

Examples of the content that we’re making available for customers is on a wide variety of helpful subjects, like selecting the right damp surface solutions when undertaking maintenance, or application guidance for products like Matcote. We have an extensive series planned over the next few months.

In addition, we’re able to conduct this training in a variety of ways – via a digestible email series or pre-recorded/live webinars, giving customers’ choice on how they’d like to receive information.

Within our Protective Coatings business unit, we’ve been working with customers from a wide range of industrial sectors. This is helped to sharpen their knowledge of how to overcome the most common industrial coating corrosion challenges by offering competitive solutions. It’s something that we’ve developed alongside our marine unit, who has built its reputation over the course of the last 150 years, and it’ll be how we support our customers over the next 150 years.

Our primary focus continues to be within the oil and gas sector, where our track record remains unparalleled in understanding how both our market-leading products and the technical expertise from our experienced sales team can support owners, operators and applicators alike. Another area of strength is the service that we bring to the energy sector, within wind production facilities for example. International works hand-in-hand with customers to demonstrate our expertise by finding the most effective solution for their large scale steel structures, at a competitive price and with the longest maintenance cycle that doesn’t compromise on product quality.

Surpassed expectations

So far, the interest in our training has surpassed our expectations. We’ve had participation from customers from a wide variety of industries and business sizes, not just in oil and gas, but from heavy industry sectors as well. Interested customers have been made up of both individuals from small business who are keen to sharpen their knowledge, right through to those who are part of the largest global enterprises on the planet.

We’ve noticed that more so now than ever, our customers are keen to learn more from us about how to maintain high temperature equipment, particularly within the oil and gas industry. To respond to this customer need, we’ve spent the last year developing dedicated programmes to help educate our customers about the issues that affect them most – and then collaborating with them to develop a solution that is both affordable and sustainable for the challenges they’re facing. The demand for the range of issues from customers has been wide, and our training has been developed to help customers overcome everything from avoiding costly maintenance shutdowns if a coating isn’t suitable for hot application under insulation, to overcoming the challenges of maintaining cooling towers. The global situation that we are now in has really highlighted the desire that our customers have for more specialist knowledge, and we’re going to be doing all we can to support their needs at this time, and in the future. By understanding our customers’ challenges today and tomorrow, it has enabled us to really become the trusted partner to support them collaboratively, every step of the way.

Growing trend

We’ve seen big changes in how colleagues and customers consume information since the beginning of the global Coronavirus crisis. To date, more than 1,000 customers have signed up to receive online training within the Protective Coatings part of International, with our marine division set to deliver similar results across the globe. Historically, for specific customers, we’ve produced tailored content to suit them, and this is something that will continue. However, we’ve discovered that many customers are experiencing similar coatings challenges in different industries, which has enabled us to take a broader approach in some cases.

Previously, we would choose to target a specific group of customers with tailored content that would suit their needs. We’ve discovered that by offering purely online support materials, we are able to take a broader approach to the wider coatings industry, and thus use our expertise to assist more customers. By finding new and better solutions to support them with solution-finding, we can offer content that resonates and enables the International brand to stay relevant at a time where so much is unknown.

Changes being made

It’s been a positive wake-up call. The digitalisation of our business is going to be accelerated to match our customers’ expectations. Our primary goal is therefore to deliver improved digital solutions that offer new and exciting ways to engage our customers to solve their coatings challenges through an improved online customer journey.