Lutronic’s Focus on Change during the Pandemic
Dr. Jhung Vojir is uniquely qualified to handle big changes for Lutronic, a leading innovator in advanced aesthetic, medical laser and related technology. During her 14 years with Lutronic, Dr. Vojir has held managerial roles involving logistics, IP, marketing and sales, regulatory, and QC. Playing a key role in setting up the ophthalmology business, she was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer of Lutronic Vision in 2018. In January of 2020, her role was expanded to include becoming the COO for the entire Lutronic operation in the U.S.
Jung Won Vojir
President and COO, Lutronic Vision
COO, Lutronic Vision, USA
Dr. Vojir is no stranger to digging in and bringing teams together to managing change. One of her early successes was managing a team to turnaround an FDA response for an Ophthalmology laser for Lutronic Vision. “It looked like the FDA wasn’t going to give us the clearance. So, we brought in scientists from Germany, a clinician from Japan, and R&D engineers from Korea. We locked ourselves in a hotel in New York City and went to work for four days, working 8 am to 10 pm every day until we resolved the issue. Although this may have been one of the most intense work weekends, we were able to drive our energy and the excitement to have fun doing it. We bonded over late dinners with lots of wine pairings, wore coordinating sweatshirts, just for the fun of it, and managed to sneak in a Broadway show. I believe in having fun while working hard. The result of this team collaboration was a 2000-page response to the FDA that got us the clearance,” says Vojir.
It is not surprising that she looked to capitalize on this strength of bringing everyone into the room to accomplish big goals when she took over the leadership helm. For the company to grow, she knew she needed the commercial side more deeply connected to operations and vice-versa.
Objective and Key Results
One big initiative she began early in 2020 proved to help with the resiliency and communication needed during the pandemic: the “Objective and Key Results (OKR)” management process, laid out in John Doerr’s book “Measure What Matters”. The OKR thesis, in a nutshell, is that each department sets priorities to achieve measurable goals aligned toward a shared objective. By February 2020 Lutronic was already implementing Doerr’s OKR process company wide. “We decided to align everything we do to this measurement process, which made each department prioritize and track their efforts towards the corporate goal of growth,” Vojir told us.
OKR kept the company on track, despite the pandemic.
Measuring results helped the departments focus on which actions would have the greatest impact on revenue. They set up tracking software to see how they were progressing weekly. “This resulted in a breakdown of silos, as it showed what other departments were working on. The OKR process led to transparency and improved communication, understanding, and accountability. When the pandemic hit in March, we were already set up to work remotely and we were very efficient, OKR helped us share a common objective and the steps everyone was taking to get there. Regularly scheduled video meetings helped the teams connect to each other,” says Vojir, adding, “For example, during the quarantine we were able to put in new ERP and logistics systems which tied all the departments together.”
PANDEMIC LEADS TO GREATER EMPATHY IN CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS
Focus on existing customers
When the pandemic hit, Lutronic quickly switched a core OKR from acquiring new customers to refocusing on existing customers. “The shutdown actually enabled more time for one-on-one with customers. Since the physicians (in elective surgeries) had more time, the reps were able to go deeper into conversations, doing a lot of knowledge sharing, for example discussing best practices for using lasers for specific treatments. We also produced a tutorial series to provide additional value and to stay connected to our customers” she reports.
Finding a Customer Bonus
Understanding that the moratorium on elective surgery made it difficult on their customers, Lutronic looked for a way to connect and provide value to their customers. One initiative they developed was focused on providing their customers with a free 3-month extension on their service plan. “It was very well-received. Not only did this comfort our customers, but it also gave the reps a talking point and reason to have a conversation with their customers. It also gave new reps an opportunity to introduce themselves.”
Filling the Tradeshow Gap
While Lutronic is still early in building its market share, they have a strong reputation for quality. Tradeshows are central to showing off their products and presentations, while keeping in touch with customers. As the shut-down cut off this major sales vehicle, Lutronic looked for another alternative. Capitalizing on their strong relationships with key opinion leaders (KOLs), Lutronic shifted focus to webinars. They developed a series of webinars specifically targeted around training. It was a different vehicle whose success was driven by the KOL and our sales reps. “Instead of a large group meeting, the webinar brought together smaller groups of sales rep contacts and leveraged the respected KOL, “Vojir reports, adding that participation proved to be higher than normal during the pandemic. Access to these were also provided through their digital and social media channels to both existing and potential customers, in addition to the weekly short tutorials.
An example in action follows from Lutronic’s Managing Director, Medicoscientific Affairs, Dr. R. Glen Calderhead, PhD, LinkedIn post. “Over the past few months during the Covid-19 crisis and related lockdowns, LUTRONIC Corporation (Goyang, South Korea) has presented a series of 38 virtual webinars led by experts in the field. These were recorded, and LUTRONIC has made these recordings available free of charge. I recommend that you take advantage of this opportunity to expand your knowledge on a variety of lasers, lights and energy-based devices! Here’s the link … visit us!”
COMMUNICATING A MESSAGE OF STABILITY
Lutronic had the fortune to have a strong supply chain, financial stability, and focus during this time and leveraged it as a focus for communicating to their customers.
Manufacturing and R&D Hold Strong
A big plus was that they had product to deliver and were able to communicate that to clients. While manufacturing facilities were shutting down in the US, the Korean manufacturing facility was in full production. Unlike many of their competitors, “Our warehouses were full, helping us to meet our forecast since inventory was not affected.” Additionally, the pandemic didn’t stop research and development, which is Korea-based, “R&D funding never decreased. That commitment is still strong and supported by the parent company.”
Strengthening Support with Video
Before the lockdown, Lutronic had been experimenting with a mobile app that helped the customer show, and not just tell, the problem they might be having in a 3d view. When the quarantine made non-essential travel impossible, they were poised to quickly deploy a full screen sharing app. “For example, instead of saying the dial that is on the right upper end corner, turn 20 degrees, the engineers could show the customer how to do it in real time.”
The app also allowed Lutronic to navigate the travel issue by utilizing 3rd party service engineers, local to the provider’s area. The app helped these engineers get up to speed and provide a visual connection to Lutronic engineers when they were on-premises. “These measures helped Lutronic abide with the travel ban while enhancing customer support. This also saved the company time and funds to address simple issues that can be solved by their local service engineers instead of senior engineers travelling all over from Boston.”
Despite the shutdown, Lutronic stuck with their commitment to growth, a solid supply chain, and R&D. The wisdom gained going forward: Despite the crisis of the pandemic, Vojir’s belief in the strength of the company and its workforce never wavered. “It’s the people and it wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t believe we could get through this. We can get through this together. We constantly emphasize the positive and act on it.”
Two product launches are in the works for 2021 and sales are on the rise. OKR goal setting and results sharing will continue. As people have proven to be effective in working remotely, Lutronic may continue with transitory schedules, including some days in and some days out of office. Vojir does admit to a need to refocus one-on-one with executive leaders and build those personal connections. “Although we will continue with YouTubes and webinars for doctors, and meet virtually via Zoom, nothing can replace being face-to-face. Virtual meeting can’t replace the human bond, and that’s something I really miss,” says Vojir.