Blake Morgan, customer experience futurist, wrote an article recently for Forbes titled The 10 Most Customer-Obsessed Companies In 2018 where she highlights “the 10 most customer-obsessed companies of 2018 that are setting the gold standard for what it means to put customers first.” She selected her list based on these companies being “most cited in reviews and the business press and were included because of their industry-leading focus on customer experience.”
While reading Morgan’s article, I was thinking about what field service companies specifically could learn from some of these companies. For the vast majority of field service organizations, customer experience is a top focus area. As fuel for thought as you develop your customer experience initiative, I selected four of Morgan’s ten to review here and add my thoughts on how they related specifically to field service (but I’d urge you to read the full article because there’s something to learn from all ten).
Morgan says: “From free two-day shipping to streaming movies and grocery delivery, Amazon Prime aims to make customers’ lives easier in just about every area. The company is always innovating and finding new ways to solve customer problems. It also has a responsive service team that is empowered to provide gift vouchers and free months of Prime service if anything goes wrong.”
What field service organizations should take from this: I’m sure you’re not surprised to see Amazon on this list. They are synonymous with customer experience, because they make life SIMPLE. How are you making your customers’ lives easier? You need to truly reflect on your service process and determine if it is as streamlined as it can be. Your customers want a seamless experience, and it’s your job to ensure you’re providing it. Another factor Morgan mentions is that Amazon customers feel empowered to provide stellar service. Do your employees feel a sense of empowerment to deal with customer issues? When your employee is dealing with a customer frustration, them having the initiative and confidence to deal with that issue immediately and urgently (without calling in to a supervisor for approval, or worse – feeling at a loss as to what to do) can make or break resolution.
Morgan says: “By treating its employees well, Costco can create a customer-focused experience for everyone who enters the door. The store famously will take back nearly any return without a limit to when it was purchased or the state it is in. Costco also listens to customer feedback about items people would like in the store, makes it easy to save with automatically loaded coupons, and has been known to reach out to customers who purchased items that may have been recalled. The store offers bulk discounts, but it doesn’t come at the cost of customer experience.”
What field service organizations should take from this: The level of satisfaction your employees have in their jobs will directly impact the experience they provide your customers. Do you know how satisfied your employees are? When is the last time you asked? Having open communication with your employees, understanding their wants and needs, helping them develop in their careers, and ensuring they feel valued is KEY to your customer experience initiative – because without workers committed to your vision, your other efforts will be for naught.
Morgan says: “The streaming giant’s obsession with customers is based on knowing them very well. Netflix collects a huge amount of data on customers to create hyper-personalized recommendations. It uses that data to help customers find their new favorite shows and to create award-winning original content that is exactly what customers want to see. By understanding customers and putting them first, Netflix can build on its knowledge and provide them entertainment they love.”
What field service organizations should take from this: Exactly how well do you know your customers? Who they are, what they value, what type of service experience they’re looking for? Striving to deliver a positive customer experience is fruitless if you don’t intimately understand what it is your customers are looking for. In today’s world, the amount and types of data you can gather to fuel the effectiveness of your strategy is astounding – make good use of it.
Morgan says: “Zappos is consistently on the top of customer experience brands, and 2018 is no different. The company goes above and beyond to show its appreciation for its customers. It follows the model of surprising and delighting customers by always looking for ways to build a connection. Employees are known to do things like send baby blankets to customers when they hear a crying baby in the background of a service call. It also hosts a series of events across the country with live music and a happy hour to build relationships and reach out to customers.”
What field service organizations should take from this: Optimizing the customer experience has to begin with core things like arriving on time, effectively completing the work scheduled, and asking for feedback. But that is only the foundation; the barrier to entry in today’s service world. How are you going above and beyond to surprise or delight your customers? What’s the extra mile you can go to truly set yourself apart from the competition?
It’s always valuable to take a look at what some of the world’s leading service companies are doing to keep their customers happy and loyal. While a one-for-one copy of their model won’t work for you, it can spark ideas of ways you can continue to improve your customers’ experiences.