From Online Purchases to Rail Service, Customer Experience is Key

By Ashley Sutera, director, Commercial Strategy & Experience

Large Retina | Inside Track Insights: Customer Experience is Key

Customer experience – or CX – has become more than just the ambience at a shop or special holiday gift packaging. It’s a new level of service consumers expect in this ever-demanding, ever-busy world.

Think about the last purchase you made. Was the process easy? Were you happy with the product? Would you purchase something from that company again?

In our fast-paced, technologically advanced world – which has accelerated even more during the pandemic – we now expect every purchasing experience not only to be intuitive and user-friendly, but to also include 2-day reliable shipping with proactive notice and an easy resolution should problems occur.

The same attitude applies toward travel. When we fly, we recognize there will be delays and cancelations due to things out of an airline’s control, like weather. But we also expect updated information and proactive notification of any changes so we can plan and let others know who might be affected.

Customer experience – or CX – has become more than just the ambience at a shop or special holiday gift packaging. It’s a new level of service consumers expect in this ever-demanding, ever-busy world. And digital customer experience has become a large part of it. We want minimal effort, success, and an overall positive feeling every click or tap of the way.

In fact, a recent Qualtrics study found that “over 65% of customers said that their experience on the website or app would be at least a very important factor in their willingness to recommend a brand.”

At Union Pacific, we know customer experience is key to driving our growth. We’re “Building America” by connecting supply and demand across the globe and every employee plays a role in protecting the business model and vision.

Delivering a positive customer experience, resolving pain points, and accentuating bright spots not only is a nice-to-have, but it’s also an imperative that gives us a competitive advantage and will be even more crucial in the advanced supply chain of the future. We understand that our customers have choices, and newer decision-makers demand a seamless, simple, responsive business partner.

So, what do our customers demand from us for a positive customer experience? We have validated through data from varying Voice of the Customer channels (interviews, surveys, etc.) that at the foundation is a consistent, reliable service product and available capacity to support their shipping needs -- which is why they choose to do business with us.

We’re successful when our customers are successful, and they define success as being able to meet their own customers’ needs and internal commitments, as well as optimize their operations, including mitigating expenses and inefficiencies.

The same way we know airlines can’t be perfect, our customers also don’t expect perfection. But they do expect us to keep them updated and provide “exceptional exception management.” When we have a derailment and inform them their railcars will be delayed, they can look at their pipeline and see if they need to make alternate arrangements to maintain their production line or get the goods to their warehouse on time.

And while they are paying to ship their product, they also are paying for seamless, simple tools to take them from origin to destination. From checking rates to ordering a railcar to tracing their shipment and paying for it, they want all of it to be done as easily and quickly as possible.

Lastly, customers want a partner for growth, to help them expand their reach into new markets.

Union Pacific’s focus on CX isn’t new, but we’re taking it to the next level by:

  • enhancing our focus on customer centricity
  • creating more sophistication around how we measure and anticipate customer experience, and
  • continuing to empower and activate tangible projects and improvements across the company.

Whether it’s replacing our invoicing system, expanding APIs, optimizing intermodal ramps, or simplifying the onboarding process, we will advance CX at a much more rapid pace in the next year and beyond.

So next time you make a purchase, think about how you subconsciously or consciously assessed the interaction. Think about the product. And think about how rail may have played a role in getting it there.

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