With more than 20 million customers a year, Bridgestone Tires is well versed in customer interactions. The world’s largest tire and rubber company operates more than 2,000 retail stores around the world, as well as an extensive commercial tire business. So how does the company stay on top of the ever-changing world of customer experience, especially with so many customers involved?
For Philip Dobbs, CMO of Bridgestone Americas Tires Operations, it starts with knowing the customer. Since tires are something everyone needs at some point, Bridgestone customers fall into numerous personas and can be focused on anything from price to safety. Departments within the organization share their insights and research so everyone, especially marketing, can best understand the customer.
Two of the main areas where Bridgestone focuses on the customer experience are the in-store experiences and social media. Most customer interactions happen in a retail location, so the focus is on creating an experience that answers customers’ questions and is helpful and enjoyable. The customer experience is even a major consideration as marketing function when bringing new products to market. Each retail store is given the power to make decisions when working with dissatisfied customers. That store can generally solve a problem as it sees fit, within the general guidelines of the company. As a whole, Bridgestone has a guarantee to make things right as quickly as possible.
And although Bridgestone tries for a great customer experience every time, it doesn’t always happen, especially with so many customers. Instead of writing a letter to the CEO like people used to do, customers now take to social media to address their concerns and bad experiences. Bridgestone contracts with a service provider to monitor social media for any potential issues, which it then addresses itself or notifies the proper store or department. In one example, Bridgestone’s social media team saw a tweet from an unhappy customer who was sitting in a Bridgestone waiting area. The company was able to call the store directly and let the manager know about the unhappy customer in real-time. The manager came out to talk to the customer and update her on the progress of her service, which greatly improved her experience. As we get immersed in emails and social media, we often lose sight of personal communication, which can be one of the most valuable customer service skills. Bridgestone also takes a proactive marketing approach on social media, especially when it comes to building brand loyalty and partnering with other organizations.
At Bridgestone, maintaining loyal customers and developing new customers is a constant discussion. To do this, the company stays focused on the future of the customer experience and the role technology can play. By being strategic in which systems and technologies it uses, the company can maintain a great customer experience in the most efficient ways possible.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author of More Is More, and keynote speaker. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here. Go farther and create knock your socks-off customer experiences in your organization by enrolling in her new Customer Experience School.