A responsive partnership approach to energy supply with Gazprom Energy is helping Siemens deliver better internal customer service, meeting the needs of hundreds of its own business units
Worldwide, Siemens employs some 348,000 people and has revenues of more than €75bn. In the UK and North West Europe, energy buying and consumption covers hundreds of sites from industrial plants to large offices, all overseen by the region’s energy commodity manager, Chris Robinson.
Managing a multi-million euro energy spend, including a significant requirement for gas across these complex operations, is about more than simply ensuring energy is available: forecasting capacity, effective trading, price and billing accuracy are all essential. Flexible gas and fixed electricity contracts supplied by Gazprom Energy are at the heart of Siemens’ regional energy provision.
“As a major area of spend, energy comes under close scrutiny at Siemens," says Robinson. "Our buying involves many internal customers across all sites and divisions and the company’s global energy consultancy also needs to manage trading as well as validating all billing — so we demand a first rate level of response and partnership from our suppliers like Gazprom Energy, right across the full sourcing and payment cycle.
“Although energy can be considered a commodity spend, this level of relationship and trust is vital so that I can manage internal customer service effectively, for example having access to the data required to answer questions raised by many internal stakeholders. As a large consumer of gas we’re a very strategic buyer, looking typically 18 months to two years in advance and constantly tracking the market to ensure a good price.
Our energy supply partner must demonstrate a highly responsive trading team so we can buy at the right price and volume and when our internal analysts say so — and it goes without saying that the same level of customer care is vital across areas like billing accuracy, to support Siemens’ varied businesses in their energy budgeting and forecasting, and payment.”
Evolving service delivery
Gazprom Energy’s dedicated account management model based on specific Service Level Agreements has ensured that Siemens always receives a same day response to any queries raised. Through quarterly review meetings, Siemens and Gazprom Energy also ensure that wider or future challenges are discussed and solutions prioritised to ensure that service delivery evolves with Siemens’ needs over time. Says Robinson: “It’s very much a business partnership rather than a supplier relationship, and most of the queries I raise are acknowledged within fifteen minutes and resolved very quickly."
Originally Siemens was receiving separate bills for each of its sites which led to time consuming internal validation processes. To simplify this, Gazprom Energy has moved to a single but itemised monthly bill for the entire Siemens’ region. Some of Siemens’ sites were also on estimated billing, leading to a lack of true visibility of spend. Alongside the various measures by Gazprom Energy Siemens addressed this by installing automated meter reading devices on the meters at each site so that accurate billing could be ensured at all times.
Gazprom Energy has enabled Siemens to benefit from both flexible gas buying and excellent service and support. Robinson says: “Successful complex energy buying is obviously very much about price and capacity but it also needs to be backed by strong customer service to ensure that both the trading, and billing and payment aspects of the job are as efficient as possible; that’s what our partnership with Gazprom Energy has given us.”
Siemens now manages a highly effective gas portfolio across its region, managing the needs of hundreds of sites and internal customers efficiently each day. This ranges from the process of buying cost-effectively for future demand to ensuring every last euro spent is correctly allocated across the group. This reduces the number of internal enquiries and issues that Robinson has to answer and gives him more time to focus on supporting Siemens’ broader energy strategy.