Next week we’ll release a podcast episode with Jamie Beck, VP of Field Operations at Peloton discussing how the world’s largest interactive fitness platform has decided to invest in field operations as a strategic differentiator. The conversation is an excellent illustration of a trend I’ve witnessed – the recognition by companies of how the face-to-face interaction that field workers provide can be an opportunity not just to “get the job done” but to deliver an experience that sets your company apart from the competition. I urge you to stay tuned for the podcast, coming August 26th, to hear the Peloton story firsthand – but today I wanted to share some insight on a topic that came up during that discussion: what are the keys to delivering a field service experience that provides a premium customer experience?
As Jamie talks through how Peloton views the opportunity to differentiation through its delivery and service functions, he describes three key points that enable the company to use field operations to provide a customer experience that Peloton members expect from the top-tier brand. An experience that leaves them feeling not only satisfied but also appreciated, valued, and part of the Peloton world. Even for companies not selling such well-known household brands, I believe these three keys are worth considering in the context of how you’re evolving your field operations to align with the type of customer experiences desired today. If you want to “wow” versus simply work, you have to think about how to create a field team that can deliver that premium experience. Here’s how Jamie of Peloton says the company is doing this:
#1: Hire on Personality; Train on Skills
“Delivering a strong customer experience starts with hiring the right people,” says Jamie. “We look for people that you would feel comfortable coming into your own home. There’s a whole wide range of experience among our employees – we don’t have a prototypical field specialist for Peloton. We have former division one athletes. We have people that have worked retail. So, it spans a lot, but it’s generally just good people. It starts there.”
Peloton has adopted this philosophy of focusing more on personality because the company knows it can train on the necessary skills. “For the scale that we have been growing at, we could not hire enough people if we just looked at technical skills,” explains Jamie. “We can teach the technical skills, and so as we’ve grown, we have built in what we call our master technician courses that allow that field specialist to promote into a role where now they can go into the home and they’re not delivering anymore. We’ve looked for more personality, knowing that we can train the skills in order to do the service.”
#2: Don’t Be Prescriptive – Promote Creativity
“The training we provide obviously is knowledge about the product, but the thing that we don’t do is we don’t give our team a script,” says Jamie. “We don’t want to be prescriptive in how they treat the member or what the experience should consist of, because each member is different, and we want them to tailor the experience. A key word that we’ve learned in the experience is they’re going to be patient with a member, to make sure they focus on that member’s questions and areas of interest.”
The idea is to provide a unique, white-glove experience – and Peloton knows you can’t do this by being prescriptive. I’d also suggest you’d have trouble hiring the caliber of people you want to provide that experience if you think you can do so by feeding them a script. Peloton, instead, hires good people and then promotes creativity. “When I started four years ago, my team was maybe 20 people to 2,000 people today,” says Jamie. “So even though my title’s the same, my roles and responsibilities have changed a lot. But one of our value statements as a company that has remained along the way is to hire smart creatives and get out of the way.”
#3: Relinquish Control and Focus on Empowerment
Finally, Peloton is big on empowering its field workforce rather than controlling every aspect of what happens onsite. “We talk a lot about empowerment at Peloton, especially within the field operations team, and it goes down to if you’re a field specialist delivering a product and maybe you don’t have the answer, but you know it’s a good decision for the member, it’s a good decision for the company, and it’s a good decision for you, then make a decision. I think the worst thing that a member customer wants to hear is, ‘Let me check with my manager,’” explains Jamie.
Empowered employees are engaged employees, and this fuels the cycle of those employees providing the type of experiences Peloton wants its customers to have. “When you empower teams, they are so much more engaged and they are doing what you want them to do and more,” says Jamie. “I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned is, as we’ve grown in scale, putting people in positions that can do that and just continuing to step back and let them lead at their level has been the biggest contributor to success.”