When you are selling high-end appliances or other premium products, customers expect their whole experience with you to be exceptional. German appliance maker, Miele, knows that and does some pretty clever things to improve customer experience.
With 17,500 employees worldwide, it isn’t always easy, but Miele’s focus on quality and continuous improvement is even embedded in its logo, which includes the words “immer besser” (ever better).
Get Creative to Improve Customer Experience
Today’s interview is with Eric Esguerra, Director of Customer Service and Operations at Miele Canada.
In it he discusses both the extraordinary (like hiring helicopters to deliver appliances to remote mountain-top chalets) to the surprising (like sending the appliance installers to gourmet cooking classes so they can relate better to the customers and answer questions about the products based on real experience as users).
Other ideas we discuss include:
Truly partnering with distributors
Miele gives distributors extensive training. It even flies them to Germany to meet with head office and factory staff. It wants them to truly be part of the family.
Getting Customer Service Reps Into The Field
If customer service reps never see how the products are made, sold and used, it is much harder for them to understand customer needs. Miele sends reps on the road with technicians to get a good picture of the consumer’s world.
“They absolutely love it and they crave it,” says Esguerra.
I’ve talked and written about the value of getting other staff doing some shifts in the contact center, but hadn’t come across a company before that also takes the opposite approach.
They also see the contact center as a training ground, and reps know they’ve got real opportunities in other areas of the company.
Esguerra started in contact center work, and he knows how demoralizing it can be to spend eight hours a day dealing with problems and complaints. He figures 2 – 3 years is the ideal length of time to be in such a job. It’s a great training ground for people who can then move on to work in just about any other department.
These types of initiatives keep Miele’s attrition rate for contact center staff is well below industry norms. They’ve actually had zero attrition for the past two years.
Eliminating Barriers to Solving Customer Problems Quickly
The company surveys customers at every touchpoint, and takes their comments seriously. Whenever a customer asks a question or makes a comment on a survey, the company answers within 24 hours.
Not only are comments answered quickly, customer service staff can go straight to the factory floor if customers report a problem. This gets things fixed fast.
Nobody likes to hear that they’ve messed up, but, as Esguerra puts it,