What is customer experience in the moving industry?

A 43-year veteran of the moving industry, Jorja Coulter has seen the atmosphere of the moving industry transform from one with a minimal focus on customer experience (CX) to one on the precipice of major CX change. As the VP of Customer Experience & Quality at National Van Lines, and one of the few individuals in the industry with such a position, we caught up with Jorja to get her insight on customer experience, the challenges that still exist, and the changes she’s seen during her tenure.

Jorja Coulter, VP of Customer Experience & Quality at National Van Lines

Jorja Coulter, VP of Customer Experience & Quality at National Van Lines

As the VP of Customer Experience, you hold a unique position within the moving industry. As the emphasis on customer experience increases within the DNA of moving companies, do you see your position as one that will become an industry standard?

The position of CXO (chief experience officer) is becoming standard in forward-thinking organizations. It may take the moving industry a little longer because we keep looking back to transportation protections that favored the carrier instead of the customer. Little by little, we (as an industry) are breaking out of that old mold.

Taking a strategic approach to improving the customer’s experience means really focusing on what the process looks like from the customer’s perspective, beginning-to-end. It’s an eye-opener!

Do you have any success stories you can share about how you’ve improved customer experience?

Sure. Currently, we are “pushing” information, instead of reacting to customer calls. We’re uncovering a lot of misconceptions on the customer’s part that are due to poor or incomplete communication.

We assume way too much in our industry, and today’s customer thinks they have all the answers. We are solving problems before they happen, and that starts with reviewing the shipment’s basic information with the customer after the shipment is registered.

The best example I can think of was an estimate where the sales representative used the wrong destination state to create the quote – the city name was right, but the state was wrong. No one saw the mistake and all of the paperwork was signed. If it hadn’t been for us, reaching out to verify the information, the truck would have been loaded with a shipment that was going in the opposite direction!

What has been the largest customer experience challenge you’ve had to tackle during your tenure at National Van Lines?

Changing the perception most people have of customer service has been a challenge – customer experience is not a complaint department. Customer experience is about minimizing complaints or eliminating them altogether.

When addressing customer experience in the moving industry, what’s the absolute first thing that moving companies should think about?

Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. You have to see the entire experience from the customer’s perspective in order to start reducing the pain points and improving communication.

What non-moving companies do you think have stellar customer experience and customer service?

I’m a big fan of Amazon – although they’ve had a few hiccups lately. With Amazon, I’ve been able to source products in minutes. In the past, this would have taken 20 phone calls. I also love the reviews and recommendations. I started by purchasing books with Amazon, then moved to Kindle Books, and now I’m even buying toys and gifts for my grandchildren. Some things are even delivered the same day!

Last, but not least, you and Maureen (CEO and Chairman of National Van Lines) work in a male-dominated field and have for over 20 years. What has that been like and what challenges/changes have you seen and/or experienced?

Honestly? If you know what you’re doing – and demonstrate it – there aren’t many gender barriers in our industry. Maybe years ago there were fewer women, but the industry has always been built on family-owned businesses where women have served in management roles for years. It’s a matter of asserting yourself and contributing.  

A few of the many women in the moving industry from the AMSA 2017 Education Conference & Expo.

A few of the many women in the moving industry from the AMSA 2017 Education Conference & Expo.