The Perfect Journey


Eva Schröder likes to be on the move – on foot and in her mind. She hikes, climbs deep gorges, bikes through forests, swims under sparkling waterfalls, preferably far off the beaten track. For GEALAN she works on the perfect journey: a customer journey with a wow effect.

After abseiling down steep cliffs, she finally breathes a sigh of relief in the grotto behind the waterfall. The walls are covered in moss and the light shines diagonally through the gushing water. On her arms: goosebumps. In her head: one big WOW. These are the moments Eva Schröder loves when she travels – completely new perspectives.  

There have been several perspective changes in Eva Schröder’s (40) life, and each one has left its mark on her. From Ranspach, a village with 300 residents in the Vogtland region of Saxony, where she was praised as a pupil for her excellent essays and played football with the neighbourhood boys, she went to the Technical University of Ilmenau. After she graduated from secondary school (Abitur) in Plauen, she studied media business. She hated accounting and taxes in her studies but loved media production and marketing. And she takes every opportunity to get out and travel as far away as possible to see exotic places. She completed an internship in Sri Lanka, where she organised events for an NGO (non-governmental organisation). She also spent a semester abroad in the Philippines and accepted a scholarship programme in Indonesia, where she organised sports projects. After learning languages at school and university – English, French, Latin and Spanish – she learned Indonesian, good enough to converse with locals and not get ripped off by taxi drivers thousands of kilometres away from home. 


Eva Schröder’s prospects also changed in her professional career. After she graduated from university, she started working in recruiting and personnel marketing at Siemens in Erlangen. However, she quickly became frustrated by endless reporting and steep hierarchies and being forced to always wear a blouse and pumps. She moved to Stuttgart, became an academic assistant at the Media University where, for a change, she had complete freedom so that she could realise her ideas all on her own. She designed the internal and external communication of the degree programme and organised excursions for the students to media companies and agencies in Scotland and Turkey. After a while, she wanted to leave the university world and return to real life. She switched to the sporting goods giant Decathlon, which was still a small company in Germany at the time. She ended up in a work environment that felt like a start-up, first as a product manager, then as an online marketing manager. ‘It was really exciting to work with a super young team. I also made friends and we often went out together. My enthusiasm for sports was well received – and the growth was insane.’ Eva Schröder was rebuilding product data and affiliate marketing, when the next change in perspective came along: She moved back to her old home, looked for an interesting job and found it at GEALAN. In 2017, she joined as Online Marketing Manager – the topic of online marketing was still new to GEALAN at that time. ‘Everyone was happy that it was finally being approached in a modern way. I had creative freedom, but also excellent support from all co-workers.’ Facebook was becoming an important tool for employer branding; Instagram was becoming an inspiration channel, LinkedIn was becoming GEALAN’s business and recruiting network – and Eva Schröder was advancing her career. In 2020, she became Head of Marketing, and when MKÖ became its own division, she took over its management in 2023. Like all division heads, she was thus part of the extended management team that decided on GEALAN’s strategic direction. 

Eva Schröder has experienced how perspectives change. It is fitting that she is working on a major perspective change for GEALAN. The company wants to know how its customers think. Why? GEALAN is convinced that only a company that can see things from the customer’s point of view works well, sells well, inspires and has a future. Of course, the fact that customer needs are important is old news in marketing. What is new is the intensity with which the perspective change is approached. GEALAN wants to precisely understand its customers’ journey from the first point of contact with the company to purchase and use. To accomplish this task, the company goes on a journey itself: deep into the world of its customers’ thoughts. After all, a customer journey doesn’t just begin when someone buys something, but long before that – with an impulse, an idea, a problem. The potential customer researches, gathers information, develops a preference, and only then goes through with the purchase. After that, it’s about loyalty, for example, by subscribing to a newsletter. Then the customer uses the product, makes experiences with it and perhaps recommends it to others. At GEALAN, this journey doesn’t happen just once, but four times – because the target groups of window manufacturers, architects, retailers and end customers each embark on a very different journey. ‘But the following applies to all of them: every contact with GEALAN is a touchpoint, and every touchpoint can become a pain point if something goes wrong. We work hard to ensure that every contact is as perfect as possible, so the customers get exactly the right information and the service they need at every stage of their journey. We really put ourselves in our customers’ shoes. That’s what the customer journey analysis is all about.’  

GEALAN doesn’t make vague assumptions about what customers might be thinking, but asks them directly, specifically and on a large scale: ‘We surveyed hundreds of our customers and partners, in Germany and abroad, and then conducted in-depth interviews to find out what they really think, what they want, where they have difficulties and what they expect from us?’ Some of the results are surprising.  

Window manufacturers obviously want great digital solutions. However, they also want equally convincing showroom concepts. Experiencing, seeing and touching still play a huge role in a world of digitalisation. Architects want more direct access to the information prepared especially for them on the GEALAN website and the Planersoftware 3.0. End customers are not tired of the topic of thermal insulation. In fact, they want to know even more about it. Retailers are far less price-driven than they are sometimes assumed to be. Instead, they care very much about partnership, personal contact and advice. On a day off in Indonesia, Eva Schröder spontaneously accepted the invitation of a local. She sat on his moped and he took her to a small lake in the middle of the lush green rainforest, where they were surrounded by palm trees, bananas and bamboo. The children of the village bathed, splashed in the water and played exuberantly. At first Eva Schröder had no idea where the trip was going – until she stumbled upon this beautiful place. A really great trip is full of surprises. 


This also applies to the customer journey at GEALAN. ‘We don’t want our customers’ journey to be mediocre’, says Eva Schröder. ‘Instead, we want to inspire our customers by creating wow effects!’ For example, this is the case when a home builder hears friends rave about their beautiful GEALAN windows, because the window company was able to answer every question, they had about thermal insulation and design, and because they were able to leisurely look at all the colours and coatings in the chic showroom. Other examples include customers who rejoice at the fact that the offer was understandable, that the fitters worked super cleanly and that they were friendly and punctual. Wow effects like these are retold and trigger the next customer journey. 

Turning the customer journey into the perfect journey is an ambitious goal that sales, customer service, architectural consulting and marketing in particular want to realise. GEALAN brings in experts from outside (interview with Prof. Wengler, page 12) and develops numerous individual projects. GEALAN wants to achieve improvements for each customer group: ‘For manufacturers, we want to create a customer cockpit – a platform where the customers log in and see all important information they need, like orders and open invoices, in a simple and clear format.’ What used to be bureaucratic is to become simple. ‘We will tailor the content on our website to our customers: architects need the technical specifications of a product, but for an end customer that would be too much information.’ Apart from that, there are also projects that benefit all target groups, for example, new showrooms with a uniform GEALAN look. 

Deep in the Alps, a balmy summer evening at the campsite. The wind blows the music of a festival over. Like Eva Schröder, the people on the campsite are in a good mood. They cook and eat together. People sit together and talk until the stars light up the sky. A perfect journey creates connection.  

The same can be accomplished with a customer journey when it works really well. Customers who not only feel well served, but truly understood, as they do at GEALAN, tend to be loyal. They develop a close relationship. Eva Schröder is convinced that this plays a particularly pivotal role in the business-to-business sector. Window manufacturers need a system provider who empowers them, supports them, helps them evolve, and does so for decades. Architects need tools to help them plan more efficiently and someone who understands exactly what support they need in which planning phase. With the customer journey, GEALAN has embarked on a journey that has only just begun.  

Eva Schröder packs her backpack. She is going to the Cyclades in Greece. Nothing more than the flight has been booked. What awaits her? Let’s see. Maybe another goosebump moment, maybe surprises, maybe another perfect trip. 


Marc Schenk


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