3 Questions for... Patrick Dupin and Damien Berthelot


Our purpose, customers’ new aspirations and the notion of service reinvented. Patrick Dupin, CEO Northern Europe Region, and Damien Berthelot, Marketing Manager for Saint-Gobain Distribution Bâtiment France and responsible of the strategy for Distribution Performance, discuss the future of commercial relations.

Climate change, resource protection and inclusion: these are the challenges we want to take up through our purpose. How should these challenges translate into responses to our customers’ aspirations?

Patrick Dupin: First, the content of our purpose raises the need for a global response. That means challenging ourselves, accepting to rise above our taboos and dare to work towards solutions that are different from what we do today, to test...

Damien Berthelot: Especially since we have to place these challenges within the unusual context we are experiencing this year with the health crisis. All our ways of working have been challenged and many of us are seeing the world differently. We are witnessing a strong trend towards family values, the home and personal space. This is leading our customers to reconsider a certain number of values, even their priorities. The equation we now have to solve is this: How do we meet the end customers’ needs while taking our professional customers with us? Because the latter are not always as mature in addressing these issues as individuals are.

Patrick Dupin: Quite. Our purpose clearly targets this quest for a haven, protection. But there are people who reason differently, in particular because their economic situation does not allow them to be as keyed into the issues of sustainability. So, we always have to ask ourselves the question, “What am I doing at each step in our value chain, between production and the end customer?” Regarding our major customers, the most effective approach, to my mind, is co-development, as it is a good way of leading everyone in the same direction. Co-development builds trust.

Will this particular context and these new aspirations affect the products and services we provide?

Patrick Dupin: Efficiency will key into sustainable and responsible commitment. We sell products, but we must go further with the services and systems we provide. In particular in how we support our BtoB customers as they take on these challenges, and enable them to go further and faster with their projects or to stand out from the others. Depending on the type of customer, we could focus more on our training approaches or co-development.  

Damien Berthelot: Optimum customer experience raises the question of how to maintain a strong link with our customers but not always “physically.” We need to think in terms of disruption and innovation, and work on multi-channel pathways that seamlessly adapt to our professional customers’ challenges.

Patrick Dupin: Absolutely. But, and there is a but, things are moving so fast that we don’t have a lot of time ahead of us. Major players are already jostling for position. We need to be the first to communicate and explain where things are heading. Our trades professional and SME customers are only beginning to think about sustainability. It is up to us to take them with us. On the other hand, our major customers are already onboard as they have to comply with standards and investors’ demands, and also because their expectations have changed. They no longer buy a product. Now, they buy sustainable solutions. In this case, the key is to sign agreements and form alliances. The more concentrated we are, the faster we will forge ahead.

To conclude, do you think that our purpose can really entrench our customers’ preference for us?

Patrick Dupin: Yes, of course, providing we walk the talk: concrete change and real professional action. We have to move fast, be agile and mix the channels. We have to get amongst the play and provide advice. We can only do this with the customers: we can help them, but we also have to listen to them.

Damien Berthelot: I would add that this purpose must first and foremost resonate with our employees. That will inform our vision and action drivers that will be the catalysts for customer preference.

Photo credit: ©Jean Chiscano.