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Is Your Company a Member of “The Last Mile Club?”

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I’ve got a club I’d like you and your company to join, and you don’t need to fork over big membership fees or get voted in by other members. It simply takes a commitment to customer service – in particular, the “last mile experience”: the point where companies engage with their customers. When you, your employees and your brand join the “Last Mile Club,” you’re committing to deliver an exceptional level of customer experiences, and care profoundly about how your customers interact with your business.

Why should you join “The Last Mile Club” and deliver a spectacular last-mile experience? It’s because today’s customers demand it! They’re more educated, more informed (about you and your competitors), and more empowered than ever – and they expect only the best from you.

The problem many companies face is that no matter how well they execute the behind-the-scenes work of customer service – processes like supply chain management, inventory management, dispatching, and scheduling – none of it matters if they don’t delight the customer during the crucial last-mile experience. Their competitors can make repairs and service checks, just as they do – but companies can truly stand out by ensuring the last-mile experience is special, unique, and ultimately, satisfying.

What can you do to deliver a superior “Last Mile” experience”? It starts with small steps to improve employees’ and customers’ digital experiences. I call them the “3Cs”.

Communicate
Today’s work environment is almost all digital. Sure, the phone works fine, and people love talking to real-live humans. But many customers would welcome the option to instantly make service requests through a mobile app – they’ll love the convenience because it shows you respect their time. At the same time, customers will also want to be informed and appreciate the ability to get notifications about a technicians’ exact location, and when that truck will arrive. Delivering that experience, and communicating back and forth about what’s happening with service requests is appreciated by customers especially when there are delays or hiccups in service delivery.

Connect
Once you’re done communicating, it’s time to fix the problem. The way technicians address customer needs and correct issues will have a direct impact on the customer experience. But they need the knowledge to do so efficiently. When technicians arrive on-site, they need quick access to asset history and the existing knowledge base to help them complete jobs faster. More importantly, there’s a ton of tribal knowledge among techs. They even have their own language. I call it “Tech-lish”, and it’s used to quickly share expertise and problem solve. If your technicians are empowered with the right digital tools to communicate with each other on the fly, it can have a tremendous impact on your customer experience.

Yet, despite the importance of tribal knowledge, according to Randstad, only 22% of IT managers have technology in place to manage the transfer of that knowledge to millennials entering the workforce.

Care
Right after a service call is a great time to follow up with some type of survey. It’s an opportunity to capture what your customer really thinks of your company, employees and brand. Ask for a thumbs-up or down, or capture more detail with a form that asks how customers felt about their overall experience. Either way, reach out and get feedback – and make the experience digital so it’s fast and easy. If you survey customers consistently about their “Last ile Experience”, you’ll not only get ideas for making that experience better, you will also gather insights valuable to support other organizations within your business like marketing or sales.

The 3 “Cs” above are essential at a time when customers expect a partnership – not a vendor-customer relationship – after they’ve invested in your product. Once customers see the benefit of the crucial Last ile Experience you offer, they’ll appreciate the care you’ve put into what is otherwise a transactional experience. And they’ll love you for it. That’s when you’ll truly be a member of the Last Mile Club.

How do you get started? Start small and no “Big Bang” approach. Perhaps the first step for your company is a simple digital form or checklist to replace your paper-based processes. Or maybe it’s an app that techs can use to capture and share images securely and in real-time. Whatever you choose, get started now. It’s time. The last mile club is waiting for you!

About the Author Hari Subramanian is the founder & CTO of Appify. Prior to Appify, Hari was the co-founder and CTO of ServiceMax, the field service management company acquired by GE Digital in 2017 for $1 billion. Hari has built a 30-year long career in Enterprise B2B applications covering ERP, CRM, Workflow Management and Document Imaging for a wide range of industries & customers around the world. He is a passionate technologist, informed & opinionated, intense & relentless, and happy to have had a very successful entrepreneurial journey.
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