While Advanced Kiosks strives for excellence in customer service and satisfaction from the beginning to the end of a project, we realize that perfection isn’t always an attainable goal. We believe that customer service can be measured best in the situations where things didn’t go “according to plan”.
The quality of a company’s customer service is not measured in number of happy customers, but in how they handle situations where a customer has a problem, or how they fix their mistakes. Though we do everything in our power to make sure that everything goes off without a hitch, in the real world, mistakes sometimes happen. The following is an illustration of how we as a company handle the, albeit uncommon, fluke occurrence.
Nancy Deol: I’ll start out by asking you to tell me about Milton CAT?
Monty Vaughn: Milton CAT is the exclusive dealer for Caterpillar in the North East, which covers New England and upstate New York. All of the new Caterpillar equipment that you see on the roads around here came from us. We have 12 locations throughout our territory and we sell construction equipment, heavy building equipment and power generation equipment.
ND: So how did the idea of an interactive kiosk, or interactive kiosks, come about?
MV: The idea came about when we were building our new location in Londonderry to consolidate two other locations nearby in New Hampshire. We really wanted to make the customer experience in the lobby better than we had at our other locations. We wanted the experience to be more interactive with more things to look at, and to do, while our customers were browsing and waiting. We wanted more ways to provide information to our customers. There was also the added bonus of wanting to go paperless as much as we could. We had seen different things at expos, kiosks and similar, and we thought this would be an interesting project to explore for our lobby.
We really wanted to make the customer experience in the lobby better than we had at our other locations. We wanted the experience to be more interactive with more things to look at, and to do, while our customers were browsing and waiting.
ND: You mentioned that you had decided to make your customer experience in the lobby more interactive as well as go paperless, can you tell me how that shaped your kiosk project?
MV: We started out by looking into iPads, because there is a Caterpillar app for iPads which we had started using. This is what got us thinking about utilizing an interactive kiosks to display brochures, videos and those type of things. With our first attempt, we thought we could try to modify the CAT sales app and use that as a kiosk, but the iPads were too small and the development time for this new app would be expensive. That being said, we really wanted to get these new interactive kiosks done before we opened in Londonderry and that’s when Advanced Kiosks came into the picture.
ND: And it would be great to hear, because we’re not perfect even though we strive to be, about what happened with the paint challenge on your second order. We try to do everything as perfectly as possible, but we’re human and things can happen.
MV: First off, I can’t really point any fingers. It was just an unfortunate situation we had. Since we hadn’t worked with you guys before, our original plan was to have 3 kiosks in the lobby, but we didn’t want to make that investment all at once. We decided to purchase one to play around with, get it up and running and see if that was really what we wanted to do. We went ahead and purchased the one kiosk and we really liked what it did so we decided to order 2 more.
That’s when the issue came into play because the original paint from the first kiosk couldn’t be matched. I honestly don’t know if the original one we had wasn’t a good match to the RAL color we used, or whether it was the second order, but for some reason…well, I’ll tell you, it really was kind of funny.
When I first showed up to see the 2 new kiosks I looked at them and said, “Wow! They look GREAT!” Then I brought them over to where they needed to be and I said, “Oh. It’s a different shade of yellow.” It was a very different shade of yellow when they were next to each other, but it was the kind of thing where if the two were standing alone together you would never know that the color wasn’t by choice.
The best part about it was that not only did he say that you were going to build 2 new ones, but that we could hold on to the 2 kiosks that you sent to us until the new ones arrived.
So that was a little bit of an, “Oops. What do we do now?” I called up Chris at Advanced Kiosks and he got back to me within a day and said, “Ok. This is what we’re going to do.” And of course I’m a little worried. I immediately thought, “Oh, I don’t feel like having this be a big deal for us.” Chris said, “We’re just going to build 2 new kiosks for you.” That was great! The best part about it was that not only did he say that you were going to build 2 new ones, but that we could hold on to the 2 kiosks that you sent to us until the new ones arrived. Now that was a great result from this unfortunate situation because not many people were actually going to notice the two different colors. I’m the marketing guy. I notice these things. It really made me feel strongly that Advanced Kiosks did the right thing. It made it the best possible scenario for me on how we were going to fix this thing. If fact, we actually ended up picking out a different RAL color and the match turned out really well. You’d have to take a magnifying glass to see any difference in color. This really instilled confidence in me that you guys were looking out for us and our product.
ND: I’m glad to hear that. It’s definitely a good resolution and quality customer service from our team. Now I know you had this big open house recently – how did your customers respond to the interactive kiosks?
MV: They were received incredibly well! Everyone liked them. We were giving customer tours all day at the new facility and that was part of the tour. The tour guide would show our customers the interactive kiosks and pull up the different brochures on the kiosks. We had them stationed next to our machines and they would tell our customers about the different Caterpillar machines. Customers could also email brochures to themselves from the kiosks, watch videos of our machines in action and overall people really liked what the kiosks had to offer. The employees liked them, too. If someone was looking at one of our machines, one of our salesmen could then walk up to the interactive kiosk and go through different features with the customer right on the interactive screen. Instead of describing how they look when they are working, the salesmen would show a video of our machines in action.
ND: That is very cool. Now with your interface, you’re offering brochures and videos, can you tell us more about what else you have lined up for these kiosks?
MV: One thing Advanced Kiosks really helped me out with was that I wanted the ability to have our customers come up to the kiosks, look at our brochure and if they wanted a copy, to be able to email it to themselves. You guys helped us out by introducing us to a 3rd party application, JOT Forms, where we could build these forms and embed a link into the PDF so the customers could have the brochure emailed. That was a great thing for us because I get an email record of who did this and we see that as a pretty qualified lead to follow up on. They are picking out a particular model of a particular machine that they cared enough to send themselves the brochure for. It’s good for the customer and good for us as well.
ND: That’s great. We love JOT form. I’ve used it before in a similar way at a tradeshow, and we have used it in other capacities as well over the years.
MV: I love it. I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to use JOT form more.
ND: You’re using your interactive kiosks to support your salesmen, create a better experience for your customers and also to assist your marketing efforts. What are your plans for interactive kiosks in the future?
MV: Since these have been such a great success, in the summer months we are going to be traveling around to all of our different locations in our territory to assess the needs in the lobbies. The plan is to place interactive kiosks in the locations that need them. Now, I don’t know how many that will be…yet.
We’re also planning on taking a trip back up to Advanced Kiosks. I want to bring our Events and Customer Support people with me to take a look at some of your other options for kiosks because there may be a place where perhaps a desktop kiosk would work better or a wall mounted kiosk. That’s also going to be happening this summer.
Another thing you guys are doing involves the kiosks in the off color – you’re holding those for me. The way we see it is if we’re only putting one in a lobby, they will work just fine.
I have to say that I think it is incredibly lucky that we took a shot in the dark, researching online for people who make interactive kiosks and that we found Advanced Kiosks. We talked with some people who were like, “Ummmmm…yeah, we can do that….”, but finding a place like your company where that IS what you do is just great.
ND: No one will be the wiser, right? Do you have any final thoughts for me on self-service technology, kiosks, customer service or Advanced Kiosks that you would like to share?
MV: I have to say that I think it is incredibly lucky that we took a shot in the dark, researching online for people who make interactive kiosks and that we found Advanced Kiosks. We talked with some people who were like, “Ummmmm…yeah, we can do that….”, but finding a place like your company where that IS what you do is just great. Also, looking at your impressive client list, all of the work that you have done before, and the fact that you are located right in our territory was a great thing. It makes us feel great to be in territory with Advanced Kiosks. We even have a few employees that live in Franklin. It all worked out really well and I enjoyed working with Chris and Tim. As I mentioned before, Advanced Kiosks’ customer service was top notch. I was also incredibly impressed that when the 2 new kiosks arrived that it was Howard delivering them to us and got them up and running. In most companies, you don’t have the boss showing up to do your delivery. That was a really nice touch because it means that he cares about his clients and about the product looking good.
ND: He really does. He was happy to deliver them and help you get them set up. You would have laughed at me chasing him around going, “Don’t forget the camera! I want you to take some pictures! Don’t you come back without pictures!” He just laughed and agreed to take some pictures for me. That’s another thing – we do work hard at Advanced Kiosks but we also like to have a fun time and a good laugh, Howard included.
Monty, thank you for taking the time to speak with us about your kiosk project for Milton CAT! We are excited for your upcoming visit and to work together more in the near future.
MV: Thank you, we are, too. Have a great day.
At the end of the day, the moral of this story is: We all make mistakes, but it is not our mistakes that define us, rather the way we chose to deal with them. Good customer service is about trying to avoid mistakes, but great customer service can only be identified in how they are handled when (not if) they happen. At Advanced Kiosks, we strive to avoid mistakes at all costs, but when they happen, we do everything in our power to make them right. As much as mistakes hurt, it’s only in these moments that we are able to really identify ourselves as providing “Great” customer service, to which I’m sure Monty would attest, if you ever happened to pay a visit to their awesome new facility.