Otis Elevator: 165-Year-Old Start-Up Company Redefines Customer Experience
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Otis Elevator: 165-Year-Old Start-Up Company Redefines Customer Experience

Tony Black, President, Service, Otis and Chris Smith, Vice President, Service Innovation, Otis
Tony Black, President, Service, Otis

Tony Black, President, Service, Otis

Silicon Valley start-ups. Multinational conglomerates. Local retail establishments. Every day, all these businesses pursue the goal of delivering better customer experience.

So does Otis. When Elisha Otis launched the elevator industry with his invention 165 years ago, we also made a promise to our customers. With us, service excellence isn’t a slogan; it’s how we do business. We’re constantly taking stock of what our customers want and need, ensuring that Otis continues to deliver the experience and quality our customers expect.

Today, Otis is more agile and collaborative than ever, competing like the start-up we were in 1853 when Elisha Otis founded his company.

Creating an Agile Culture

Our service transformation is a perfect example of how we’re creating an agile culture that responds in real time to customer needs. Otis and our parent company, United Technologies, share this cyclical approach that begins with user-centric design, creates a minimum viable product (MVP) and then moves quickly to test, learn and iterate to enhance our field operations and customer satisfaction:

User-centric design: We start by uncovering what our users— employees, customers, passengers— need or will need. By designing for real needs, we build loyalty and streamline development.

MVPs: We release new offerings as MVPs, which include only essential features and functionality. This approach accelerates time to market and helps us validate that our core assumptions are true.

Test, Learn, Iterate: After we release a service product or MVP to users, we seek to continuously refine based on feedback and analytics. Iteration continues for the duration of the service lifecycle.

User-centric Design Led by Our PeopleChris Smith, Vice President, Service Innovation, Otis

Listening to our own employees—and their experiences—is critical to the transformation of our service business. If we’ve learned one thing, it’s that before we can improve our customers’ service experience, we must first improve our service employees’ experience.

 Employee engagement also helps ensure adoption of this service technology for the long term 

To get that input, our employees interviewed our customers to better understand their experiences with us. Based on what they learned, they created journey maps and pain-point analyses, and suggested ways to make the service experience smarter and more streamlined—for our customers and service employees.

Our mechanics told us of their pride in their work and their buildings, but also explained exhausting processes that prevented them from spending more time with customers. For example, if they were on-site and needed an elevator part, they had to leave the customer, drive to the office and search through a thick printed directory to identify the right part before driving back to the customer site. Clearly, there was room for improvement.

Our MVP: Mobile Tools That Empower Mobile Employees

Our next step was to define our strategy and an MVP roadmap—and we knew it had to be mobile. We chose iPhones as the new mobility tool and began building our own proprietary apps. Using these apps, our 33,000 technicians will be able to inspect our installations, find and order the part they need, review the instructions for installing that part, consult safety procedures and more—right from wherever they’re working. That means less time traveling between worksite and branch, and more time building customer relationships. All of that leads to both a better employee and customer experience.

Test, Learn, Iterate, Repeat

While we’ll still be deploying iPhones and apps through next year, we also continue to test, learn and iterate. We’re supporting this change through an internal network of Otis service employees, a volunteer group of 1,000 employees in 13 countries who are helping to lead our transformation and ensure it endures. This volunteer network continues to grow.

This feedback is key to our success. The insights we gain from our service employees give us the information we need to make critical app enhancements. Employee engagement also helps ensure adoption of this service technology for the long term.

Design Thinking in Customer Experience

In addition to mobile apps, we’re using our agile processes and tools to digitize our customer experience. We’re moving from multiple customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to one, global CRM. Our field service, sales and call-center employees will be able to more quickly review each customer’s installation count, service history, contact history and more. It also ensures they’re accessing and sharing the same customer data—regardless of their location.

We’re also putting the Internet of Things (IoT) to work to enhance the customer experience. For example, we rely on IoT to send us performance indicators from each elevator and escalator. We enter that data into intelligent dashboards, evaluate it and then generate “health maps” that reflect every unit’s condition. We analyze these maps to identify the units most likely to shut down—and schedule maintenance visits before they do. That gives the mechanic more time to explore with his or her customers how Otis can better serve them.

We’re just starting to capture the full benefits of IoT-technologies. Our service employees have been instrumental in crafting the strategy, roadmap and expectations for our next generation of IoT solutions.

We’re Not Done

At Otis, innovation has always defined us. Our history includes a string of industry firsts that have dramatically improved elevator performance, enriched the passenger experience and even allowed architects to design buildings in entirely new ways.

Elisha Otis revolutionized how the world moves. What’s less well known is that we also pioneered elevator service when Elisha’s son, Charles Otis, put his signature to our very first maintenance contract back in 1861. Charles promised the customer that he would personally conduct the elevator inspections. We will continue to honor that legacy by reinventing our service model and delivering dependable service that is tailored to each customer’s needs. All with the personal commitment of every Otis employee worldwide.

We’ll never be done—and never stop pursuing new and betters ways to deliver on our promise to our customers.

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