Case uses its Monthyon customer centre near Paris to immerse existing and prospective customers into the brand experience. Anirban Bagchi visits the sprawling facility for a first-hand look
The people at Case are proud of their brand, and justifiably so. The CNH Industrial group company has been making heavy machinery, industrial vehicles, and agricultural equipment for more than a century now and has produced some of the most innovative products in the world at various times in its history. With such a history and heritage, pride is natural.
To share this pride in their legacy with customers and automotive technology buffs, CNH Industrial has built an entire facility for Case Construction Equipment to provide them with an introduction to the company and its machines, as well as an entire experience of the Case brand, including hands-on sessions with the machines, demonstrations by experts, a dive into the history of the company and various other aspects about Case.
More than anything else, however, the Case Customer Centre in Monthyon near Paris is a place where the company extends its hospitality to its customers and introduces them to the support and care that they can expect from Case once they buy their machines and become part of the Case family. For those already part of the family, the centre serves to reaffirm and reinforce that feeling of partnership that Case says is part of its core philosophy in its operations.
For Case’s customers worldwide, most substantial deals involve a visit to the Monthyon facility; this is where site manager Patricia Legros and product promotions team manager Didier David come in.
“When a customer is interested or has some queries on his mind, we arrange a visit to Monthyon. Our Case colleagues from the respective global territories contact us to arrange the visit and then we host the customers along with the Case business managers concerned,” says Legros.
“The customer can then get demonstrations and hands-on experience of the products that he is looking for or an entire product range, so that we can give him a better scope to see beforehand what he is buying into. Added to this is our hospitality, guidance and help all along the way, with which we endeavor to assure the customer that not only is he buying a machine or a fleet of machines but he is also buying the service and support after that.
“What is very important with Case is how we present ourselves. We don’t just present ourselves across a table to the customer. Normal business is done facing each other but we also like to stand shoulder to shoulder with our customers. So, it’s more of a partnership; going into a project that the customer is involved in to make sure he knows we will stand with him as a partner. And this is the process that starts at Monthyon.”
David adds: “That’s what this centre presents. It is a connection to the customer on a more personal level, and shows that there is a guarantee behind the equipment you’re buying. You’re not just buying a good wheeled loader, you’re buying after sales service from a team that is strong technically and also committed to your cause and always by your side.
“At Monthyon, the customer gets to meet the Case team and then from there we will take them through our parts operations and show them that our network is a really big one and we can supply him with all that he needs to keep his operations running smoothly.”
Technicalities about machine performance and after-sales support logistics aside, there is also a human element to doing business well. Forming relationships is a cornerstone on which the best brands are built, with Case being no exception. In fact, making customers into partners is something that the brand is an expert at, and the process starts at Monthyon.
“This place is a very good opportunity to share with customers what we are all about,” says Legros, speaking about the Customer Centre. “Over here we provide answers to their questions with our team, because when you buy a machine you have questions about various things. What really makes our customers most comfortable is that we are taking care of their logistics.”
Of course, that is not solely what the centre is about. It is, rather about the impressions and feelings that Case’s customers get about their new machines and new partner. Making that impression favourable, though, requires a lot of dedicated work behind the scenes. Elaborating on it, Legros adds: “If a group wants to come here or a dealer wants to bring their existing or prospective customers here, they can just check the available dates with the appropriate Case person in their territory, who will take care of the travel and transfer arrangement, and the hotels – and even entertainment in Paris. So, the customer can just relax and concentrate on their core business of getting to know Case and the machines that suit their purpose.
David adds: “They just need to say that they are interested and give us the date they are available and we will take care of the rest. Once they touchdown at Charles De Gaulle International Airport in Paris, they are our guests and our responsibility until they board the flight back home. Also, the dedicated hospitality work done by our team at the centre enables our Case sales teams to focus completely on the customer because we are taking care of every other aspect for them – from a smooth journey to Paris and a fruitful time in the city to a great experience here at the centre and an equally smooth return.”
Taking CMME around the sprawling campus, David points out its many features. There are separate spaces for demonstrating and trying out each category of machine, with digging grounds for excavators, loading areas for wheel loaders, separate areas for compact machinery and other simulations of an actual job site. On one side of the huge plot is a rocky outcrop, which is used as a staging area for quarry operation demonstrations. The entire premises has a gradual natural slope to it, which has been accentuated at certain places to make it possible to simulate working on gradients.
In a corner of the area is a dedicated space for machine maintenance, comprising a workshop and a cleaning area. The cleaning area is a pit-like structure made out of concrete, with a bed made of iron grills meshed together over a drain and water collection area and an array of high-speed water sprayer nozzles on either side. When a muddy piece of equipment needs to be cleaned, it is driven in and positioned over the mesh. The nozzles then get to work, spraying the machine with jets of water under high pressure from all sides. That water is collected below and then cleaned and recycled for future use.
“But this is not where the centre’s green credentials end. The entire water used on the site is harvested from rainwater and recycled, making it independent of city water supply,” says David, and adds that being a responsible member of the community through sustainable use of natural resources is important for Case.
The final feature of the centre is its piece de resistance. It is the main building, which houses a souvenir shop, meeting and conference rooms, a reception and a large cafeteria, as well as an all-weather, tiered viewing gallery or auditorium. Rows of comfortable seats rise up on an inclined plinth in a large hall, which looks out onto a large staging arena. There is an enormous glass wall separating the outdoors form the indoors, but this glass wall is retractable. This means that when the weather is conducive, the glass is retracted for visitors to view Case’s expert operators thrash its machines on the gravel of the arena outside, giving them a real-time look at how robustly they are built. On the not-so-comfortable days, however, the glass separates the visitors from the elements as they go about enjoying the demo in heated – or air-conditioned – comfort.
And on those especially pleasant days, when the cool breeze and the crisp sunshine of the vaunted Parisian spring and summer make staying indoors a waste, there is an open air amphitheatre just adjacent to the main building, where viewing the demos from tiered steps makes it a livelier experience, with the sounds of the revving engines and the wheels biting into the ground for traction adding an element of immediacy – all under the watchful eye of one of the earliest backhoe loaders manufactured by Case, now nestled at the top of the amphitheatre as a permanent exhibit under its canopy.