What IT Execs Can Learn About Great Customer Experience From Amazon, Apple, and IKEA

IT executives can improve customer experience by taking a few notes from the pages of major brands like Amazon, Apple, and IKEA—even if they don’t work at direct-to-consumer companies.

There’s much to be learned from iconic companies that have successfully implemented tools for delivering an exceptional customer experience.

  • IKEA embraces self-service with its successful “do-it-yourself” approach—from shopping to checkout to home/office assembly. IKEA offers a great example of how, when done right, self-service can be a differentiated experience rather than a roadblock.
  • Amazon trains customers to find what they want. They can review what others think and order items without ever having to talk to a customer service rep. More recently, Amazon Prime has established a standard “service level agreement” that promises delivery in two days. With that simple SLA as the standard, Amazon now delights customers when they over-deliver with same-day shipping. Amazon provides excellent guidance to IT in terms of encouraging the right type of user behavior, standardizing on simple SLAs for groups of elements and over-delivering when possible.
  • Apple sets the standard for design, differentiating itself in both form and function. Apple’s products are so highly engineered that they require no instructions to set up or use. Apple shows IT the importance of design to the user experience.

Self-service is the key to delivering effective customer service in the evolving digital workplace. We in IT are in a new era where customers often want to find their own answers before reaching out to customer service reps. The rub has always been that IT departments have limited bandwidth to explore and unlock the potential of self-service innovations.

A Service Desk Institute (SDI) study found that 64 percent of self-service initiatives fail. Companies need to follow the lessons of the Amazons, Apples, and IKEAs of the world if they want to build a phenomenal customer experience that makes effective use of self-service. Below are six tips, inspired by these brands’ example, for enterprises to improve IT self-service:

1. Make self-service easy to use. Design matters. Make sure users know exactly how to serve themselves across the service life cycle. Design an intuitive, consumer-driven experience similar to what people are used to in everyday life—an experience where no training is required because they’ve already been conditioned to know what to do.

2. Make the system accessible anytime, from anywhere. End users must be able to get support from anywhere. As people travel for business and work from home more, there is a steadily increasing preference for mobile devices.

3. Ensure that knowledge is readily available. Ensure that end users can solve issues and learn as they go with a robust knowledge management capability. Make relevant articles and information easily accessible, and make it easy for end users to perform DIY problem resolution.

4. Set up a service center. Offer an easy-to-navigate catalog of common requests where end users can get what’s needed to do their job or efficiently submit a service request, leveraging the power of automated workflows to route requests to the right staff for fulfillment.

5. Create social or collaborative capabilities. Leverage social or collaboration tools to allow end users to consult with colleagues, not just IT, for specific issues. For example, an employee needing help with PowerPoint is unlikely to want to take that issue to IT. Make it possible for them to learn from a colleague who happens to be a whiz in that application.

6. Leverage artificial intelligence. Whenever possible, end users should have the option to get help without the need for human intervention. With the increasing acceptance of tools like Siri and Echo, many employees are comfortable using virtual personal assistants (VPAs) to resolve issues, find answers, and learn. As these VPAs gain the ability to conduct more complex interactions and learn over time, this alternative is sure to become the preferred option for many.

Getting some of these right isn’t enough. You need all six to deliver an outstanding user experience. It’s not just about the front end. Make sure you have the back end covered with intelligent workflow and knowledge management so you can delight users by enabling your front line to resolve complex issues—on the first call.

Many companies embark on self-service initiatives to reduce costs. They will fail. If the focus is on an excellent customer experience, all of the other self-service benefits —cost savings, faster time to resolution, and reduced tickets—will follow.

John Prestridge is chief marketing officer at EasyVista. An accomplished marketing and product strategist focused on customer needs, he helps drive product innovation and market development within the IT service management software industry to support the digital transformation of enterprise companies. Prestridge has held sales and marketing leadership roles at SunView Software, Citrix Systems, and Sequoia Software (acquired by Citrix), to name a few. He has also led global ERP implementations, security architecture development, advanced technology adoption, and enterprise software development initiatives as a senior IT executive in the private sector.


CRM Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues