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Voices

3 Customer Service Lessons from Pella Corporation

Elena Constantinescu
May 26, 2020

3 minute read

Pella, a window and door-making company, has been bringing innovation into people’s homes for over 90 years. Pella has become a leader in technology and product innovation with more than 150 product and design patents.

Pella’s passion for quality and innovation goes beyond the products and encompasses every part of the customer journey. While customer service often isn’t a deciding factor in someone’s window purchase, it often shapes how the customer feels later about their choice, their likelihood to buy from Pella again, or recommend Pella to their friends. In short, customer service directly impacts brand loyalty.

Here’s how Pella improved their strategy, technology, and metrics to deliver exceptional experiences.

Lesson 1: Prepare for an evolution, not a revolution

Is your contact center and field support organization delivering random, reliable, or excellent experiences? In a recent Upshot customer story, Traci Scott, Senior Business Analyst II from Pella Corporation, shared, “Many of our customer service reps were jumping through hoops and otherwise going out of their way to help customers. You might wonder: ‘Where’s the problem?’ The downside to that behavior is that, because our rep worked outside a consistent process, the next customer might not get the same care, or the person who got great care might wonder why it took so long.”

Traci went on, “Our random experiences largely came from the disparate systems we used for customer service. They were disconnected. We pride ourselves on being with the customer every step of the way, but that meant our technology disconnects were with the customer every step of the way, too.”

To guide the change to connected experiences, Traci and the Pella team developed a framework starting with establishing a technology solution and then defining processes, so they could move from random to reliable experiences. When that foundation was established, they could move onto delivering desired experiences.

Lesson 2: Pick a solution to match your business’s complexity

Pella’s business has a lot of built-in complexity due to the number of product SKUs and warranty information, the wide range of customers (e.g. home owners, builders) and partners (e.g. retail partners, local branches), variety of window and door applications including their custom built solutions, different locations, and their desired integrations with their financial systems.

Pella first needed to move from random to reliable experiences, so they wanted to provide their customers with multiple support channels while maintaining a common workflow across their contact center, field operations, and local branches. This approach would bring the desired consistency to their operations.

In short, they needed a cloud solution that could handle their business’s complexity and empower them to configure and integrate the system to fit their needs. Plus, they wanted to easily upgrade their solutions. They looked at a few systems and eventually invested in Oracle B2C Service in May 2013 and later added Oracle Field Service.

Lesson 3: Carefully choose, balance, and get baselines on your metrics

While Pella historically scored highly in Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), they’ve shifted to focus on Customer Effort Score (CES), because as Traci noted, “CSAT and CES are not directly correlated: – Were you satisfied with the experience? –’Yes (aka it’s fixed)’, How much effort did it require? – ‘A higher amount of effort than wanted to put into it (aka I spent too much time getting it resolved)’.”

With Oracle Service B2C and better data, Pella also shifted away from Average Handle Time (AHT) to first-call resolution, because they learned some agents were having two shorter calls but ultimately taking more of the customers’ time. Now they’re resolving issues in the first call 75% of the time, which gave a 21% boost to their CES score.

Traci continues, “And while Customer Effort Score has always been one of our guiding metrics, it’s important to also balance that metric with efficiency.” And their progress is obvious with their success metric of decreased agent on-boarding time by 40%; increasing first-time completion by 13%; decreasing the number of agents needed per sales by 30%; increasing the number of cases resolved without a field technician by 15%; and increasing the number of trips each field technician is able to make per day by 30% through optimized scheduling and routing.

One of Traci’s favorite quotes is, “If you want to see where a company is at, look at their sales, but if you want to see where a company is going, look at their service.”

Read Pella’s full story of service transformation on Upshot Stories: Creating the Building Blocks for Exceptional Customer Service.

Elena Constantinescu
Elena Constantinescu is a CX Portfolio Manager for the Americas, part of Oracle’s global Marketing organization. She likes to empower customers to share their success and strengthen the Oracle CX business and community.
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