Far from customers? GE Appliances closes the gap with virtual service.

How GE Appliances delights owners with proactive, informed experiences at every touchpoint.

Time to read: 5.5 minutes
If you’re like other customer-centric companies, you want to get close to customers. If you’re like GE Appliances, you want to be so close, there’s “zero distance” between you.

That’s the thinking behind the household appliance giant’s treatment of customers, whom its employees call “owners.” The company’s “zero distance” philosophy embodies its commitment to grow closer to owners to provide products and services that deliver an outstanding experience. 

Once focused primarily on protecting the brand founded by Thomas Edison, GE Appliances, a Haier company, has swapped transactional experiences for service-oriented ones that build owner trust. 

“We believe when we are close to owners, we better understand their needs and wants, which puts us in a much better position to produce products that make them feel good about the brand, even if they do have a problem with their appliance,” said Jim Gothard, Executive Director, Call Center.

Prior to its digital transformation just before the pandemic, disjointed legacy systems prevented the company from seeing the full picture of its customer relationships and realising impactful ROI. GE Appliances turned to Salesforce to bring consistency across every touchpoint, from customer support calls to field technician visits to email check-ins.

With a single place for its 1,700 call center agents and 1,000 field service technicians to turn for the most up-to-date customer data, GE Appliances was ready for the wave of orders and customer inquiries that flooded its gates as consumers began spending more time at home. 

If you’re working to close the gap between internal teams and customers, learn how GE Appliances uses Salesforce Customer 360 to delight owners with proactive service that builds lifetime loyalty.

"We are an appliance company, but at the end of the day, what we are really trying to do is be there for people in their moments of life."

Viren Shah

Chief Digital Officer

GE Appliances is Closing the Gap to "Zero Distance" Service

In this video [02:55], learn how GE Appliances is there for customers in their everyday moments of life with connected, proactive service.

1. Resolve more calls the first time, decreasing handle times by up to 12%.

Owners call GE Appliances for a variety of reasons, from making a warranty claim to requesting a replacement fridge part. Whether they’re a first- or fourth-time caller, it’s the service team’s job to know who they are and what they need. Yet, with disparate systems to solve various issues, agents had a hard time grasping customers’ needs while switching between applications. 

With Service Cloud, agents have a single source of truth to clearly see where customers are in their ownership journey. Plus, the company can handle more calls at less cost by pairing Service Cloud Voice with partner telephony from Amazon Connect, increasing first-call resolution and decreasing handle times by up to 12%. GE Appliances refers to this complete visibility as “Owner 360,” helping the company close the gap to “zero distance.”
“That 360-degree view is the enabler for our zero distance philosophy,” said Angie Corbett, Senior Manager of Ecommerce Sales and Digital Engagement. “The magic that happens once we have that view is the owner doesn’t have to repeat themselves throughout the various processes to let us know their experience.”

No matter how many times owners have called in or who they’ve spoken to, each agent has full visibility of their case to speak knowledgeably with a consistent brand voice.

MuleSoft plays a huge role in building a 360-degree customer view, enabling GE Appliances to quickly connect any system across the enterprise. Instead of switching between legacy systems, the company can unlock and orchestrate data using API-led connectivity. This means integrations can be reused for future projects, creating business agility and fostering collaboration across teams. GE Appliances has already achieved 69% reusability across 18 APIs. For instance, service teams can see who the owner has already spoken to and which technicians they’ve already seen. With tools like natively embedded voice and omni-channel routing, agents can route calls more effectively and assign more complicated cases to senior technicians.

“The return on investment for the technology we’ve employed is really agent efficiency and the ability to connect with the owner and create that human experience,” said Corbett. “That’s priceless.”

Plus, agents and customers alike can self-serve with a knowledge center of articles they can search whenever they want. GE Appliances can even automate replies featuring article recommendations in response to real-time voice transcriptions.

“Salesforce allows us to leverage all those touchpoints to improve the owner experience and let them know we really care who they are and what their needs are,” said Corbett.

2. Make technicians more proactive with complete owner visibility.

Part of achieving “zero distance” between GE Appliances and owners is doing more to proactively meet their needs. Out in the field, technicians have the perfect opportunity to assess owners’ needs and go the extra mile in meeting them.

This means cleaning filters, pairing owner phones with smart appliances, helping them download the brand’s app — and even vacuuming behind the fridge without being asked. If it means spending more time with owners, GE Appliances is all in.

Yet, with about 10 house calls to make per day, technicians didn’t always have time to spare at each location. 

With Salesforce, technicians can look ahead at their schedule to see what appliance models owners have, plan for potentially complex cases, and ask engineers for assistance before they’re even dispatched. 

“They’re more productive and that gives them more time to do those things for the owners that really make a difference,” said Chuck Weaver, Director of Program Management.

Connect with customers in the field or at the office.

With Salesforce Field Service and Visual Remote Assistant, you have the tools you need to:

  • Give field service techs real-time, expert guidance
  • Quickly see and solve field service issues
  • Increase cost savings and customer satisfaction

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3. Deflect 10%–15% of truck dispatches by assisting owners virtually.

Pre-COVID, the only option for in-home repairs was to dispatch a technician, which required owners to cancel plans or even take off work to accommodate the half-day service window.

Going forward, visual remote assistance will give GE Appliances another option for putting technicians in the home, which is a big win for saving both technician’s and owner’s time.

When owners need simpler warranty repairs, for example, a technician can virtually coach them through it with the ability to see the setup on the screen. If the owner’s situation does eventually call for in-person assistance, technicians will have the visibility to better diagnose the need before visiting the home.

And because GE Appliances measures technicians on first-time resolution, diagnosing the problem early on will eliminate the need for repeat visits. Technicians are so excited for the technology, they want to know when they’re next to receive it.
“The biggest capital every organisation has is human capital,” said Viren Shah, Chief Digital Officer. “The ability to scale human capital and make them efficient every day is going to be critical.”

Sometimes an owner may decide it’s time to replace the appliance instead of repairing it. Using historical data, GE Appliances can predict the best time to suggest its personal shopper program. Owners can schedule a time to “meet” with a shopper via the visual remote assistant, browse products, and purchase directly from the manufacturer through its owner loyalty store.

4. Build a lifetime journey with owners through personalised moments.

The beauty of GE Appliances’ Owner 360 vision is there are no longer separate systems for service agents, technicians, or even other team members like marketers.

Once consumers become GE Appliances owners, they receive a series of communications to start building their lifetime journey with the brand. Marketing Cloud gives GE Appliances a way to personalise communications with owner data to send welcome emails, regular tips and tricks on using products, and maintenance emails at six months and beyond.

“Personalisation is everything,” said Corbett. “Can you really create zero distance without that personalised experience? I don’t think you can.”

Because Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud are connected in one platform, agents can see which communications have already been sent. This way, agents, techs, and marketers alike can better understand what customers have already received and where they are in their ownership journey.

When consumers are ready to buy, GE Appliances also has the technology to ensure the right products are in stock at the right channel partners. Sales reps can manage leads and follow marketing campaigns to confirm the product continues to meet brand standards in the last leg of its journey to customers.
As customer needs change, GE Appliances can serve them with cross-team visibility of their owner journey. And with tools for remote service, the company can come even closer to achieving zero-distance customer experiences with proactive service that anticipates their needs — today and in the future.
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