What was your vision for the rpc joint venture five years ago?
The idea on the part of BMW was to summarize the whole topic of sales development and to put together a convincing service package comprising consulting, coaching, training and human resources, all in an independent, specialized, innovative, and highly mobile unit that is also intended to serve other customers outside of BMW without letting know-how flow to direct competitors.
Is that still true today?
Absolutely. The whole topic of „Transformation of the Customer Experience“ is just getting. Serving customers correctly in a multi-channel system, with smart data and a convincing customer journey – both physically and digitally – will be an essential factor for the competitiveness of any company. This goes far beyond classic sales optimization.
Financial Times and Focus Business have named rpc a growth champion.
We are of course very proud to be among the top 50 fastest growing companies in Europe, and in fact we have grown on average by almost 170 percent per year; we now have more than 350 employees. This is due to the fact that demand on the part of BMW was very high, internationally, so that we were able to open one base after another very quickly and serve the local markets. It was also important that we moved up the time for our step to China, i.e. that we went there as early as 2015, two years after foundation, and now employ 55 people there, 100 percent Chinese by the way.
And the growth from business with customers other than BMW?
That is our focus now. The platform for a worldwide range of services has been created. Now we can plunge into other industries that have a strong brand, a valuable product, and multi-level distribution systems. We currently do business primarily with suppliers of telecommunications and commercial vehicles; the retail trade in luxury goods as well as banks and insurance companies also suit us well as customers. The objective is to multiply business outside BMW over the next few years.
The five-year-old rpc is now larger than its shareholder, the 20-year-old h&z. A problem?
On the contrary, we learn from each other, we organize joint training sessions for our employees, and we can recommend each other’s services to our project customers. For the h&z Group, it is an important part of our service portfolio that we have such good specialists for sales in Europe, USA and Asia under our roof.
You mentioned that digital transformation should also be the focus for rpc. How exactly do you advise your customers?
Firstly, digitalization is changing the content of our work. For example, when a new product enters the market, it is also about new ways of making contact with potential customers. This is increasingly happening via digital distribution channels or social media. Suddenly the entire customer interface has to learn how to move credibly in these worlds, how to find evaluations and comment on how reputation management works, for example.
Secondly, it is not easy to prescribe something in structures that have often grown organically and have different interests: We’re doing online sales now. The company needs a good omni-channel concept, on which ways which products should go into the market and how to best realize these plans. Here, rpc provides support for both concept and implementation.
You mentioned the two new focus areas for rpc: Customer Analytics and Retail Design.
Many companies want to switch to data-driven sales in order to address their customers even more specifically. But that’s not that simple, because the data is located in different places, not that easy to bundle and efficient to use. The software tools are diverse; data protection issues also play a role. The same applies to retail design and the latest technical touch points with the customer. One can dream of selling the future, where clients surf virtual worlds with 3D glasses, but to make it a positive buying experience, not only must one have designer expertise at hand, but also a very good understanding of the customer. And we do. We are constantly out there.