One of the great pleasures of working on our upcoming book, Outside In, was interviewing customer experience leaders at great brands like FedEx. I was fortunate enough to be able to talk with Laurie Tucker, SVP of corporate marketing at FedEx, to get her story. I was so impressed by the work that's going on in her group that I invited her to speak at our Customer Experience Forum in New York on June 26th to 27th (she's on the morning of June 27th).
As a prequel to some of what we'll hear from Laurie at our event, we sent her questions about the FedEx customer experience and why she sees it as a competitive advantage. Her answers appear below.
Q: How would you describe the experience that you want FedEx customers to have?
A: Relationships oftentimes start with a simple handshake. For example, when you meet someone for the first time and extend your hand in greeting, you’re offering to build a relationship. In the same way, we want to offer a hand to our customers to establish a personal and meaningful connection. After all, FedEx is more than just delivering packages. We’re an innovative company that thrives on delivering solutions and programs that meet our customers’ needs and expectations.
We also want our customers to know that FedEx understands the important role we play in helping them grow their business, and we are committed to empowering them to deliver superior customer service to their customers on their terms. We demonstrate this commitment by proactively identifying their needs, delivering simplicity in every interaction, fostering relevant relationships and leveraging our network of expertise to support business growth. Whether our customers need a partner to grow their business or simply deliver that special memory, we’re committed to that relationship from beginning to end.
Q: How does FedEx provide a superior customer experience to that of its competitors?
A: Delivering our Purple Promise — making every FedEx experience outstanding — is in our DNA. It’s our commitment to give customers the best service possible each and every day. Without that promise, we’re just another shipping provider — and that’s not FedEx. FedEx also prides itself on its P-S-P culture (People-Service-Profit). If we take care of our team members and support a work environment with opportunities for growth, learning, and appreciation, then they will deliver superior service to our customers; the profit will take care of itself. Our talented team members amaze me by continuing to find new ways to innovate and improve the customer experience in every area across the corporation.
It’s amazing how quickly the digital age is driving our business, too. I can remember when providing just the location of a FedEx package was innovative! Today we scan packages and instantly know their location, route, shape, weight, and more by simply pressing a few buttons — and even that is changing. Customers can now track what’s going on inside a shipment with SenseAware powered by FedEx, and the demand for automated solutions is still growing. With so much information available, the more we can provide these statistics and accessibility, the easier we can offer personalized solutions. The key is being able to consistently measure these numbers and acting on them through our marketing efforts to meet our customers’ needs and goals.
Q: What are one or two of the most critical activities FedEx performs that enable the delivery of a great customer experience?
A: The way our customers operate their businesses and live their lives in today’s interactive digital world requires a shift to a hyper-personalized experience. Customers expect us to know them as individuals and provide them with access to more information and visibility. In turn, we have to empower them to take control. This focus has translated into a shift for FedEx in terms of how we approach our business and communicate to our customers. We cannot simply send an email or post a message on Facebook. We have to fully engage this new social network with strategic marketing plans that are designed to truly understand and anticipate the needs of our customers — sometimes even before they know them! By focusing on that personal connection with the customers and continuing to innovate, we can break down cross-channel barriers and provide the right service at the right time through the right channel, no matter where they are in the world.
In addition, FedEx has had to adapt to recent economic changes (e.g., the price of fuel) as the industry matures and becomes more competitive. For example, FedEx is aggressive with its fleet modernization efforts to support growth. In 2011, we entered into an agreement with Boeing to purchase 27 new 767-300F aircraft over the remainder of the decade. By purchasing more modern, more reliable, and much more fuel-efficient aircraft, we will reduce the structural costs of our operations into the future, while maintaining our great service reliability our customers expect. We have always believed we must invest in outstanding customer service, especially when economics become tight, so we can continue to grow.
Q: What gets in the way of delivering the right experience to your customers?
A: Although leveraging today’s technology has helped us provide numerous solutions to our customers, we have to be mindful of how our technology translates to customers and their business. That’s why it’s important to make that personal connection with customers so we can educate them on our systems and tools, such as fedex.com, so our services are easy to understand and use. We also have a great Solutions team that enables us to intertwine our technology with customers’ systems so our relationships with them are seamless and profitable. We don’t want our customers to simply conform to our processes; we want to create synergies across the organization to help customers better run and grow their business.