Customer Experience Lessons from an F1 Pit Crew
Published by Stacy Mueller on
Inspiration can come from unexpected places. It just takes some creativity to spot it. Business owners often turn to sources like business books, popular podcasts, and news media for advice. But what can we learn from a more unconventional source that can apply to business? By paying attention to the action in the pit lane as much as to the race on the track, we’ve identified a few tips from the pit crew at a Formula 1 race that just might elevate your customer experience:
- Have absolute clarity about roles and accountability: In an F1 race, each member of the crew has a very specific specialty. These roles come into absolute focus during the pit stops, where movements are coordinated down to fractions of seconds that can truly win or lose a race. When developing customer-facing processes, that same kind of accountability comes into play. Defining where one role passes to another, like the transition from Sales to Onboarding, can make a big difference in how customers experience working with your company. Smoothing out any friction points in those handoffs that cause unnecessary confusion and knowing who’s responsible at any phase helps create a repeatable and consistent customer experience.
- Take a proactive stance: This is one that can really make you stand out. It’s all about anticipating your customer’s needs, rather than waiting for the call that something needs attention. In the pit lane, the crew get into position, with all the right tools in hand, facing the pit entrance and ready to receive the incoming driver. They know if there’s been an incident on the track that caused damage or whether they need to be ready to make an adjustment to the front wing. Based on your experience, you are naturally positioned to know the type of issues your customer is going to have and what to do about them. How much more valuable is it to get ahead of those issues before they become a disruption? Being ready gives your customers comfort and peace of mind that you’ve got their back.
- Eliminate the unnecessary: Here’s where really evaluating every process is important. Incremental tweaks can have a huge impact on your team’s efficiency, on what it costs to deliver your service, and ultimately the bottom line on your financials. For the F1 pit crew, this shows up in their highly coordinated movements and specialized tools that differentiate their actions from a typical tire rotation at your corner auto shop, even when they are both “changing the tires.” In business, this can look like adding in automations to connect different systems and eliminate the need for manual intervention in parts of your processes that are repeated. It can also mean streamlining communication methods so that your customers know exactly where to turn when they have a question or need to reach out for help.
- Practice makes perfect: You better believe every member of an F1 pit crew has gone through countless practice runs before they slot into a spot during a race; during the off-season, at practice sessions, and when qualifying for the event. You can do the same thing with all of your customer-facing activities. Run tabletop exercises with your team to test how your processes run with a dummy customer, get input from staff who aren’t directly involved in service delivery, and ask existing and new clients for honest feedback. Incorporate what you learn into future interactions to tighten up your processes. And don’t forget to revisit from time to time as the environment, players, and technology change.
- Plan for things to go wrong: When you watch an F1 pit stop, it’s really easy to focus only on the specific actions of the crew surrounding the car. What you might not see is the safety staff, who are watching the activity in the pit so the team doesn’t release a car into traffic and cause a collision. You might not notice the rest of the crew gathered at the garage opening, ready to jump in if needed. You might not observe the labels on the tire warming blankets, that help ensure that the right tires go in the right positions and on the right car. What redundancies do you have built into your processes? What checks do you have in place to let you know if something is wrong? What recovery plans have you documented to mitigate the impact of a crisis? Who can fill in if you or one of your staff is out sick or on vacation? What relationships do you have outside your company that you can call upon for extra assistance and advice? Thinking about all of these things in advance puts you in a position to act and recover quickly when things don’t go 100% to plan so you can get back on track.
Looking outside traditional sources can give you some unique perspectives on running your business. Watch this space for more creative places to find them.