Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction

The needs of our customers determine our actions. As a market leader in radio frequency power and x-ray technology, we serve a wide range of customers, from global market leaders to SMEs. Regardless of our customers’ size and business sector, we follow four basic principles in serving each one: We ask what problem really needs to be solved and why; we inspire through our expertise; we provide or co-create solutions with a clear benefit; and we deliver what we promise, while saying early on when we cannot meet a need.

In order for us to deliver on these principles successfully, customer proximity and customer loyalty are crucial. In addition to best-in-class products, a strong R&D organization, local presence with skilled sales and service teams in our key markets in Europe, North America and increasingly in Asia, another pillar supporting sustainable business relationships with our customers is our effective and efficient after-sales support.

Comet invests in the satisfaction and loyalty of its customers on a daily basis, as these factors are crucial to its long-term success. The risks that arise from a lack of customer satisfaction and loyalty are manifold and can have a profound impact on Comet. They range from direct financial losses to damage to the brand image and internal challenges. These risks make it all the more necessary for us to invest in customer satisfaction and loyalty. We take every opportunity to stay in close contact with our customer base, in order to share ideas with customers and to understand and anticipate technological developments. This exchange takes place at various levels: in direct interactions between the account manager and the customer, in joint teams that solve specific problems, at trade shows where we can present innovations from our portfolio, or at trade conferences.

In the year under review, for example, Comet took part in the regional trade shows of the semiconductor industry association SEMI in the USA, Europe, China, Taiwan and South Korea to promote its latest innovations, above all the Synertia® radio frequency power platform. At Productronica, the world’s leading trade show for electronics manufacturing, the IXS division presented its revolutionary CA20 x-ray system for 3D x-ray inspection in advanced packaging, tailored to the needs of the semiconductor industry.

Product & Technology Leadership

For some of the most innovative customers, we manufacture products at the frontier of what is technologically feasible. With our leading-edge technologies, we seek to be the preferred partner for the most innovative companies in our markets. And we work hard to defend and expand our technology and product leadership in order to remain among the leaders in our markets in the long term. Should we not succeed in this, we would be faced with various risks that could detract from our market position, our ability to innovate and our long-term viability.

Product leadership is not defined by technology alone. Rather, achieving it is the result of implementing key strategic decisions such as gaining market leadership for selected products or focusing on standardized products (modular standardization). These strategic issues are regularly coordinated with the Technology Committee of the Board of Directors.

To maintain product and technology leadership in our markets, we invest between 11% and 13% of our sales in R&D every year. Using funds effectively and efficiently, we employ 301 people in R&D, or about 21% of our total workforce, with proven R&D specialists working at all organizational levels and in all functions.

We measure our targets in terms of market share, on which we collect and analyze data regularly based on internal and external sources. We use other key performance indicators to measure how successfully we sell newly launched products. With the exception of external market share data, these KPIs are presented to and discussed with the Executive Committee at the quarterly business review meetings.

The esteem in which Comet is held as one of the long-standing and leading technology partners in plasma control is underlined by the receipt of two awards from major customers in Europe and Asia.

Product Impact

Our products can impact society and the environment in many ways. For society, our technologies play an essential role in the manufacturing of semiconductor chips and sensors that are the central building blocks of the digital world. And environmentally, the impact begins with the sourcing of raw materials and continues through the product use stage to the end of the product’s life cycle.

For Comet, assessing environmental impact is becoming more and more important. This is partly because customers are increasingly looking for products that have as little impact on the environment as possible, and partly because, going forward, we will give even greater weight to this aspect in the selection of our suppliers in order to improve our own environmental footprint.

If we underestimate the impact of our products, we expose ourselves to risks that can have serious consequences. If products cause damage or do not comply with legal safety standards, Comet could face product liability claims. Such legal disputes are not only costly, but also tie up valuable resources and time. In addition, fines, claims for damages and product recalls can lead to considerable financial burdens. Comprehensive assessment and continuous monitoring of product impact are therefore essential in order to minimize risks, safeguard customers’ trust and protect the integrity of the company in the long term.

In the fiscal year under review, Comet intensified its efforts in the eco-design initiative. The aim was to develop a deeper understanding of how to carry out eco-design analyses. To this end, cross-divisional workshops were held with employees from all three divisions and the central functions. As a next step, pilot projects are planned to check adherence to eco-design standards in existing products. The results of these projects should help to reduce the environmental footprint of our products. They also aim to assess and improve the contribution of our products to achieving the goals of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) with regard to climate change.

Product Quality & Compliance

The quality of our products and their conformity with all product-related regulations and directives are a fundamental element of our corporate culture and the basis for our business success. Our quality principles are an important argument for our customers. We are committed to providing our customers with high-quality products and services. Our products are competitive, defect-free, safe and environmentally sound in their application and thus make a decisive contribution to the success of our customers. Therefore, we strive to avoid any risk that could compromise quality.

The risks associated with poor quality or violations of legal regulations can lead to investigations by supervisory authorities, penalties and even criminal prosecution. In addition, customers or other affected parties may file claims for damages, leading to further financial burdens and a tarnished public image.

In addition to ensuring the quality of our products on the market, we are committed to continuous improvement, which begins as early as the planning stage for new products, activities and processes. Our management sets division- and location-specific quality targets, provides the corresponding resources and structures and regularly reviews target achievement. Internal audits, customer and certification audits, benchmarks and best-practice applications all contribute to the continuous further improvement of the quality management system.

The process responsibilities are mapped in the Comet Group’s management system. Product quality and conformity are essentially defined by the divisions, with responsibility assumed by the division country general manager and accountability resting with the respective country general manager.

Operational Excellence

The Comet Group wants to become more efficient, more flexible, and faster. Our goal is to develop into a highly profitable company with clear market leadership in each of the markets we serve. A key lever in achieving this is the pooling of resources and strengthening of the organization. Focused on global collaboration, we will continue to improve business and operational excellence.

Operational excellence is a process set out in the management system and which provides the framework for making Comet a sustainable, high-performing organization. Operational excellence is essential for Comet to remain efficient, competitive and profitable. A lack of this quality can have far-reaching negative effects on our entire business activities.

The Group function of Quality & Excellence is responsible for the management system, including the process framework and architecture. Within this framework, the following tasks, among others, fall into this area of responsibility:

Target achievement is monitored on the basis of defined KPIs such as the number of successfully implemented improvement projects, automated availability of the selected KPIs (for instance, cost of goods sold per unit produced, operations staff costs in percentage of net sales, and on-time delivery performance in filling customer orders), and the certification of all Comet sites to ISO 9001.

The Quality & Excellence Board (Q&E Board) acts as a committee for the person in charge of the Quality & Excellence group function. The Q&E Board supports the VP of Global Operational Excellence in implementing projects and initiatives in the divisions and corporate functions.

In the Global Operational Excellence (GOE) Group function, we combine the logistics, trade compliance, real estate, environment, health and safety and facility management functions. Through this center of expertise for all matters relating to operational excellence, we leverage our power as one company by optimally aligning our business activities worldwide and learning from each other.