10.4 Customers

Customer relations

Management approach customer relations

Geberit provides its customers – notably plumbers and sanitary engineers – with a wide, proven range of training courses. In the reporting year, some 22,000 professionals were provided with education and further training on Geberit products, tools, software tools and installation skills at 29 Geberit Information Centres in Europe and overseas. Furthermore, Geberit gave support to plumbers, architects and sanitary engineers via webinars on fire protection and sound insulation, drinking water hygiene and other issues. Notably due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the reporting year saw much greater use made of webinars and alternative training formats than in previous years, with more than 52,000 participants in attendance.

Geberit’s product portfolio comprises around 60,000 articles, a range that calls for extensive know-how on the procurement, assembly and functionality of each product. This knowledge is essential in order to hone the specialist skills of the employees and prepare them for the challenges posed by the market, as well as to stand out as a company with qualified specialist personnel. In order to ensure that this know-how is kept up-to-date, Geberit has developed the Geberit Campus – an international learning platform for employees that can be used in every market. The Campus enables Geberit to centrally collect and provide know-how. Furthermore, interactive eLearning courses are offered, as well as seminars at the Geberit Information Centres. Geberit products and areas of expertise such as fire protection and sound insulation are focal points of knowledge transfer. For further information, see Business Report > Business and financial review > Financial Year 2020 > Customers.

Customer health and safety (GRI 416)

Management approach customer health and safety

For Geberit, high quality standards mean fulfilling customers’ requirements in terms of functionality, reliability and application safety to the greatest possible extent. Corporate Product Quality is responsible for ensuring that suitable framework conditions promote a quality culture throughout the company, and that all employees act in a quality-conscious and independent manner.

Products undergo a defined quality assurance process from the first draft. Product Development is responsible for ensuring that the products developed are safe and user-friendly, and that they comply with all standards and statutory requirements. As an independent department, Product Quality is responsible for defining, arranging and monitoring all necessary inspections to ensure that these requirements are met. A clear organisational distinction is drawn between Product Development and Product Quality. In addition, many products are also examined by external authorisation bodies.

Following market launch, an efficient handling of complaints with integrated error analysis, the initiation of sustained corrective measures and the continuous development of concepts for customer support takes place in cooperation with Sales, Production and Development. Geberit has achieved a high standard in the processing of complaints, and reacts directly and in a solution-oriented manner in each individual case.

Product Development and Product Quality are equally responsible for customer health and safety.

Conducted health and safety assessments (GRI 416-1)

Generally speaking, Geberit products and services involve low risks for customers in terms of health and safety. Geberit nevertheless adopts a preventive approach within the scope of its comprehensive quality planning in order to test and ensure the health and safety requirements of all products from development to certification, through manufacture and storage, to installation, use and disposal. Eco-design workshops are held in the course of product development in order to optimise the use of suitable and ecological materials. If products or their use result in an increased risk to health or safety, Geberit’s technical editorial staff ensures that this is communicated appropriately to customers, see GRI 417.

Non-compliance with health and safety requirements (GRI 416-2)

Throughout the Group, there were no court judgements or warnings against Geberit in the reporting period involving contraventions of regulations on the health and safety of products and services or product and service information. Furthermore, no sanctions were imposed in connection with Geberit products and services due to non-compliance with product liability regulations.

Marketing and product labelling (GRI 417)

Management approach marketing and product labelling

Most of Geberit’s marketing activities continued to target plumbers and planning offices. Besides new or revamped digital tools, proven measures were continued – such as customer visits, training, and the publication of regularly updated technical documents, catalogues, brochures and magazines. Geberit is constantly increasing its activities in the area of Building Information Modelling (BIM), an interdisciplinary planning method that helps to optimise the entire planning and building process while enabling architects, sanitary engineers, building owners and building material manufacturers to share information efficiently, see Digitalisation/BIM.

Corporate Marketing is responsible for the labelling of products and services. Conveying product and application information in accordance with laws, standards and target groups is one of the main tasks of the Technical Documentation department that forms part of Corporate Marketing. A comprehensive portfolio of various document types and publication channels is available for this purpose. In the area of assembly and installation, Geberit focuses on multicultural and generally understandable images comprising detailed illustrations and guiding symbols. On top of this, more far-reaching information is provided for the plumber, architect and engineer target groups via various handbooks and skills brochures. In addition, product and safety data sheets are available for all products and target groups.

The end user target group is becoming increasingly important in the conveying of product information, as Geberit is addressing end users directly with more and more products. Geberit ensures safe handling and correct labelling by means of detailed operating documentation based on the prevailing standards and laws.

Requirements for product information and labelling (GRI 417-1)

Products involving the use of electricity, gas or dangerous substances – or those containing such substances – need to be appropriately labelled in accordance with the prevailing standards and laws. This includes providing information about the target group and its qualifications as well as the intended use and the existence of substances subject to labelling requirements. The distributor/supplier must publish this information in a national language of the target market in accordance with the prevailing laws and regulations. Whenever possible, plastic components must feature material labelling in order to facilitate recycling. In order to meet the increased demand for digitally available data, a medium- to long-term goal is the creation of a “material passport” for each individual product. This contains information on the product materials used and the associated ecological footprint.

Geberit has joined forces with the European Bathroom Forum (EBF) founded in 2017 to work on a new European water label that is to be used for a wide range of sanitary products. This is an all-encompassing, voluntary and flexible instrument launched by the sanitary industry to support EU targets on resource efficiency. Moreover, 40% of bathroom furniture of the Geberit brand is FSC® certified (FSC-C134279).

Non-compliance with product information and labelling requirements (GRI 417-2)

Two cases of incorrect labelling came to light in the reporting year, and these were both corrected.

Non-compliance with marketing communications requirements (GRI 417-3)

In the reporting year, there were no known violations of marketing communications requirements.


Management approach digitalisation/BIM

A significant share of the company’s varied marketing activities is targeted at plumbers and sanitary engineers. This especially applies to the ongoing, personalised and frequently project-related support given to installation companies and planning offices by Geberit sales representatives. Digital tools are playing an increasingly important role here. As part of the digitalisation initiative, a dedicated team at Group level and in selected test markets is involved in developing and launching digital tools that are tailored to the different needs of the respective target groups.

In order to respond to the needs of end users as effectively as possible, various digital tools were launched and further developed. An “inspiration tool” for end users is now in use in 15 markets in Europe. A 3D planning tool was also developed, providing a precise and realistic platform for end users to design their future bathroom. Meanwhile, a new CRM system introduced in all main markets allows Geberit to tailor its offer to the requirements of prospective end users who are interested in sanitary products. Potential customers are made aware of Geberit’s websites through a campaign in digital media, where they can then find inspirations, information and digital tools. In the reporting year, the campaign generated over 2.5 million sessions on the corresponding websites and 17,000 end user registrations in the CRM system.

Geberit’s online catalogue has been set up on an extremely high-performance platform. Information relating to products and spare parts is available from a single source and can be displayed on various devices. Information searches are intuitive, also enabling easy navigation on mobile devices at the construction site.

A digital specification tool has been developed to offer even better support to architects, sanitary engineers and plumbers when planning and configuring bathrooms. It is used to assist the specialists in selecting the right products for a customer-specific project, from the installation and sanitary technology all the way through to the various bathroom products. Another tool designed for everyday use is the Geberit Pro app for craftsmen. This offers sanitary professionals support when it comes to the correct installation of Geberit products. Things are rounded off by other digital helpers, such as a calculator for using Mapress pipes in industrial applications or a self-learning programme for detecting actuator plates and concealed cisterns.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is an interdisciplinary planning method that aims to optimise the entire planning and building process, while enabling architects, sanitary engineers, building material manufacturers and building owners to share information efficiently. This helps them to avoid planning errors and improve productivity. For a number of years now, Geberit has been providing BIM users with support in the form of product data and calculation modules. The team of BIM experts was completed in 2019 and forged ahead with its job of processing BIM data for Geberit’s entire product range. The team also developed a plug-in for the Revit planning software, which gives sanitary engineers direct access to compact 3D models that are always kept up to date, plus the corresponding planning parameters. The small size of the individual files allows them to be used efficiently. Following the roll-out for the most important product categories in the first markets in autumn 2019, the plug-in is now available worldwide and has already been downloaded over 4,000 times by planning and engineering companies.

As a result of the restrictions enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was only possible to provide around 22,000 (previous year 35,000) professionals with face-to-face training on products, tools, software tools and installation skills at the 29 Geberit Information Centres in Europe and overseas. However, this was more than compensated for by a wide range of webinars and alternative training formats. Whereas webinars were visited by just 2,000 specialists in the previous year, there were around 52,000 participants at these online training courses in the reporting year. Additionally, the range of in-house digital training courses was expanded and saw widespread use by employees.

Geberit responded quickly to the spate of trade fair cancellations in 2020 due to COVID-19. For example, the German sales organisation decided to offer trade professionals a virtual 360° tour of the booth that had been planned for the cancelled trade fare in Essen (DE). A similar approach was taken in Spain, where the Casa Decor in Madrid (ES) – a renowned trade fair for interior design – was cancelled to visitors. Here too, the local sales company offered the interested professional audience the opportunity of visiting the Geberit booth online.

At the same time, Geberit also developed a virtual showroom that can be tailored to the needs of the individual markets with relative ease. These showrooms offer a good overview of the wide range of products and new products in the respective market. They also provide additional information in the form of short videos, graphics and links, and offer visitors the opportunity of tailoring their own showroom experience. The first virtual showrooms went live in the second quarter of the reporting year and have already been visited by over 30,000 interested parties.

Data protection (GRI 418)

Management approach data protection

With the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force, data protection has become an even more important issue for Geberit. It was incorporated into the Geberit Compliance System in 2019, and the data protection processes and tools were expanded and optimised during implementation of the GDPR, which was concluded in the reporting year. In addition, comprehensive training activities were organised and Geberit’s data-protection compliance organisation was reviewed by external auditors.

Complaints concerning violations of customer data privacy (GRI 418-1)

In the reporting year, there were no known complaints concerning violations of customer data privacy.


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