Jon White has seen how his focus as GM information technology has shifted in his nearly eight years at appliance firm Fisher & Paykel.
White, who started as IT manager, says back then, “It was about B2B retailers, and our website was an electronic catalogue.”
F & P is a household name in New Zealand and Australia, and a well-known premium appliance brand operating in 50 countries, including the UK, China, and the United States.
While its products are sold mainly through retailers in New Zealand and Australia it has begun selling online in other parts of the world.
This shift meant upgrading their technology to support the shift from business to business (B2B) to include business to consumer (B2C).
As part of the process, F & P has integrated their sales, service, and marketing technologies so they could better understand their customers, and provide smarter and more personalised support for customers.
The change involves moving from custom solutions to the Salesforce Platform.
White explains that F & P was already using Salesforce, through Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud. They then added Service Cloud, which integrated with the call centre technology.
He shares how these changes impacted the way they are engaging with customers across the globe.
Today, he says, F & P has a more interactive single point-of-information, rather than duplicating it through multiple systems.
He stresses that if you have already registered your product, you don’t need to repeat that information when talking to their operators.
Their operators have instant information on customers.
He illustrates that when the customer call has to be transferred internally, the customer record pops automatically for the new person handling the call.
“We wanted to stop people repeating the details, because that effortless experience comes when you don’t annoy customers.”
The service agents, meanwhile, can also book an on-site service technician. A link is sent to the customer, so the latter can track the arrival of the technician.
According to White, this removes a distraction for the customer from wondering if the service person will be arriving at the said time.
“You get away from having to take the whole day off,” he says.
Customer sentiment is important, so they ensure that if a customer has just had a service call, they will “wind down” the marketing experience.
“You are not going to receive advertising that there is a brand new fridge just after a service call,” he points out.
“We want to keep people engaged with us, but not annoy them.”
The new technology environment has also resulted in changes for White and his team.
With Salesforce, we don't need to worry about the infrastructure it is running on, he explains.
“IT has gone from being a backoffice thing that just delivered to your computer, to actually something that is required to engage more with customers,” he says.
“We do not want to be the ‘blocking IT group’,” White explains. “It is important the business units see what can technology can do and we help them do it.”
According to White, they prototype a lot more together now with business units.
“It is a much more cross-functional team, instead of a business unit saying ‘IT needs to deliver this’,” he states.
“We are delivering it together, rather than seeing a handover between siloed business units.”
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