“Doing That Little Extra for Our Customers”
Being in the front row of technical progress and still being close to people – this is what DEKRA is striving for. Peter Laursen, the new Chief Operating Officer (COO), explains how this can be achieved.
Mr. Laursen, as the new COO, what impressions have you gained in your first hundred days as a member of the board at DEKRA? What goals have you set?
Laursen: I was on the road a lot, especially in Europe, to meet customers in person and talk to our colleagues. And I need to say: I am impressed. I experienced how great the team motivation and commitment is. Our colleagues don’t just want to meet our customers’ requirements but are also thinking about how to exceed them. And some are already even thinking about how our services will develop. I find this mindset fantastic and exemplary. Always doing that little extra for our customers should become the DEKRA standard. This is how we achieve an even better quality of our products and services for our customers – an experience that exceeds expectations.
Can you give us an example?
Laursen: Our goal is to make our customers’ lives safe, secure, and sustainable. And to deliver true added value – today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. To understand what this means in concrete terms, let’s look at vehicle inspection. Today, emissions testing is a big part of our services here. In the future, however, we will increasingly be testing electric vehicles. And this will not be about emissions testing anymore, but likely instead about battery testing or testing of the advanced driver-assistance systems. To test automated driving functions in a realistic environment, we inaugurated the city courses test tracks at the DEKRA Lausitzring in June. The site in Klettwitz offers a unique variety of test tracks. The increasing connectivity of vehicles brings with it some new challenges for safety testing. For instance, also think of over-the-air software updates or data security in general.
“Technology changes – safety remains!”
Laursen: So, what do we need to do? We must adapt our inspection service not only for tomorrow but think ahead to the future. Meanwhile, it’s important for our customers to feel like we are also thinking things through for them here and now and that we strive to offer them a true customer experience. I can think of a specific example of a vehicle inspection, during which the inspector alerted an elderly couple that they would need to change their tires in the foreseeable future. He also told them how much money they could save on gas if the air pressure was always correct. They felt well looked after and I am sure they will be happy to return to “their” vehicle inspector next time. For me, this is true added value for our customers. I call this the “+1” experience. If we offer our customers a positive moment, two plus two can turn into five. By the way, this also applies to our interactions with each other.
But what does that look like in DEKRA’s B2B world? How do you create such experiences here?
Laursen: Let me give you an example: In Arnhem (Netherlands), we have carried out safety testing on electrical equipment for many years. We do this strictly in accordance with the relevant markets’ standards and guidelines. This usually involves electrical safety or radiofrequency testing, but we now additionally offer our customers testing according to Cyber Security criteria. And this is more than just upselling because they benefit from the certificate itself. But even more, these results can be relevant to the customers’ future product developments. This is what added value means to me.
Does DEKRA need to know the customers’ requirements before they know it themselves?
Laursen: There is something to it, and customer feedback confirms it. They really appreciate it when we put our experience and expertise to work for them. Of course, this is part of the business for us; it is our DNA. But if our services increase the attractiveness of our customer’s products, it’s a true win-win.
That’s why it’s very important for us to be state-of-the-art and to think ahead – in certain industries even to think far ahead. Let’s return to our Cyber Security example: The number of devastating cyber-attacks on well-known companies shows how significant this issue has become for the entire economy. And that is why thinking ahead is one of our core tasks at DEKRA. This is how we are committed to our customers, and this is where we are happy to offer support.
In many industries, there is a high level of market dynamics, and artificial intelligence is part of the ever-increasing pace of innovation. What role do these tools play at DEKRA?
Laursen: A big one. First and foremost, we see our role as testing customers’ AI tools for security. We recently introduced comprehensive audit and advisory services for this very purpose. This is especially important for customers who are developing their own AI modules for their products and services. Also, we at DEKRA use some AI tools internally to optimize our performance, for example in IT and marketing.
So your own AI tools should also be secure, right?
Laursen: Absolutely. As a responsible international expert organization, we naturally check our own tools intensely. But it’s worth it. Because we know that with the help of AI, we can become even more efficient and generate real added value for our customers. For instance, we can invest the time we save in areas where AI cannot yet replace human contact. This is important to us, as DEKRA serves people and companies worldwide for their security, safety, and sustainability. But what also remains true is: As an expert organization, we use every technological advance positively.
What will you focus on in the future?
Laursen: “Technology changes – safety remains!” is one of our core mottos. What does this mean? It means that industries change, and technologies evolve, but safety and security will also be fundamental in the future – especially in a world with a strong focus on sustainability. And we are experts for safety – as this is what we at DEKRA have been focusing on for almost a hundred years.
Thank you for the interview.
The 47-year-old is a business administration graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. He began his career in the sea freight business in Athens and Copenhagen, founded his own company in the field of personnel consulting, and further developed the knowledge gained there as Managing Director of DEKRA Denmark. Since 2021, he has been responsible for the Northwest Europe region for DEKRA SE and is Head of Global Medical Business and Executive Vice President DEKRA Group. Since April of this year, he has been a member of the DEKRA SE Board of Management as Chief Operating Officer (COO).