Interview Carles Coll

Carles Coll has a degree in Electronic Engineering from the Universitat Politècnica de Barcelona. He has been working in the Healthcare division of SENER Group for eight years. His professional career in the company started more than eleven years ago.

Coll has participated in the design, development, and implementation of AUTOPLAK, the automation solution for microbiology laboratories that contributes to laboratory efficiency and guarantees the quality of service and results.

He currently holds the position of Customer Service Manager at SENER Diagnostics. In today’s interview, he explains the importance of being close to the laboratories and how the information gathered in this communication framework is translated into improvements and new instruments.

1- Talk to us about your work as manager of the customer service.

In Sener Diagnostics, in addition to the development services and manufacturing, we also offer customer service. This type of service usually covers up to level 2, with some cases covering the entire value chain up to level 1.

The customer service work has various attractive ingredients, such as showing the customer how to use innovative and technologically advanced devices. Once I fix a faulty device, the best feeling related to my work is the relief that the customers experience when I leave the instrument functioning correctly again.

Nevertheless, there are also rare occasions in which you perceive the immense responsibility given to you, like for example, when you face a complex fault within the device, which you have to fix in a short time.

The microbiology laboratory (the area we’re interested in) is partially automated, making it essential to provide upstanding customer service so that our clients perceive the benefits from automation.

Automatization usually generates particular objections in some users, as they perceive it as a loss of jobs. However, the objective is quite the opposite: automatizing those repetitive processes with low added value and promoting higher complexity employment, increasing the quality and capacity of the diagnostic.

2- What type of people do you usually interact with within your day to day job?

I usually interact with laboratory technicians, laboratory managers, people with extensive biological knowledge and a lot of experience in highly demanding workflows.

In addition, the people with which I interact with everyday help me learn new qualities, such as the integration of possible upgrades to the device. Some of these improvements include refining the instrument’s usability, enhancing the device’s interaction with other elements found in the laboratory and reducing the assay variability.

3- One of the most critical factors in providing outstanding customer service is proximity. How do you achieve this closeness with the laboratories?

It usually depends on the scope of collaboration. Still, it is essential to be transparent and have the client understand how a particular mechanism works, what has broken, and why it has been damaged.

All this helps generate confidence with the client, and more importantly, improves their understanding of the device, preventing future breakdowns and resolving minor mismatches efficiently.

4- Another factor is speed of the response. What mechanisms do you apply to achieve this reaction speed?

From Sener Diagnostics, we complement the capacities of the OEM (responsible for distributing our instruments) by giving support in those incidents in which our input is more urgent.

We understand urgent problems as those that stop the device. On the other hand, we acknowledge less critical issues as mismatches that require excessive attention by the user but allows the device to function.

The objective of the customer service team is to guarantee the operability of the laboratory, so the patient receives a diagnostic as soon as possible.

5- How do you measure the level of confidence that the laboratories give in Sener Diagnostics?

It is the OEM that maintain a commercial relationship with the laboratories.

From Sener Diagnostics, alongside the OEM, we collect, share, and monitor numerous quality control indicators from the service provided to the laboratories.

As a customer service team, it is essential for the client to understand our commitment to them. It is why after we fix each incident, we conduct a follow-up of the device to ensure that it has been resolved and will not reappear.

6- How do you organise the information once it´s been obtained after each repairment?

Every single repairment we conduct, we register it in a database. Once a year, we then analyse every repairment, and we assign a degree of severity. With this classification and the number of cases of the same repairment, we obtain a degree of criticality. Those with a higher degree of criticality are analysed thoroughly to discover the cause and apply the necessary measures to solve the problem. Annually we also examine the evolution of the incidents repaired in the previous years to check that these have diminished, to ensure that the measures implanted work correctly.

All the information gathered is shared with the development team and conceptualised on new instruments. We, therefore, consolidate an internal work cycle, which allows us to create new value proposals that are more robust.

7- Do you materialize what you have learnt in the field, in upgrades or solutions? Could you give us an example?

Of course, each user, builder, manufacturer and technician contributes with new ideas. These are then taken into consideration and implemented where possible. Many excellent ideas appear, but some have a high degree of complexity, and we cannot integrate them.

However, others are simple and add a lot of value to the product. After being analysed and validated with the OEM, we implement them in the new batch of devices.

A clear example arose when the rubber presses the tube against the agitator of the AUTOPLAK. Typically, when the robot deposits the tube on top of the agitator, the agitator starts working. However, a client told us that the agitator initiated faster if a bit of pressure was applied on top of the agitator. We consider customer feedback of extreme importance, so we analysed their suggestion thoroughly and implemented it.

8- Where is Customer Service for companies with laboratory customers heading? How will this activity evolve in the coming years?

The world is becoming more global, which means that it is vital to have the necessary tools to guarantee the best remote customer service. One action that we have taken here at Sener Diagnostics is to implement remote access in every device delivered to the client. The reason for this is to ensure that when a client requires an urgent problem that the OEM cannot fix, our engineer can move to the client’s location with all the required equipment to fix the incident.

The main objective that we have in the department is to be able to conduct a predictive diagnostic. In other words, to be capable of solving incidents before they occur. To accomplish such a challenging task, it is exceptionally vital to connect to the devices directly. In addition, we also equip them with additional sensors that will allow us to detect possible faults before they occur.

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