Next-Generation Customer Experience
TruGreen is the nation’s largest lawn care company, serving more than 2.3 million residential & commercial customers across the U.S. with lawn, tree & shrub care. As the leader in the professional lawn care industry, they define responsible lawn care practices, conduct industry-leading education and people training, pioneer new application technology & educate customers on proper mowing & wise-use watering techniques. The company ranked 10th on CareerBliss list of the 50 Happiest Companies in America for 2018. Today, they have ~314 lawn care branches in N. America, plus ~35 franchise locations. TruGreen is the official lawn care provider of the PGA of America and PGA Championship.
When Ayman Taha joined TruGreen as its Chief Information Officer in February 2019, the company had three strategic objectives: growth, efficiency, and engagement. Shortly thereafter, TruGreen added a fourth pillar: digital transformation. In developing his strategy, Taha started with business strategic objectives and worked backward to define the key technology enablers he would need:
- Self-service – enabling customers to do business with TruGreen on their own terms, when they want, and how they want
- Innovation – exploring and piloting emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), bots, interactive voice response, and cloud services
- Data – becoming a data-driven business, including fact-based decision making and better insights into customer sentiment
- Digitize internally – driving productivity and efficiency through fully digitized internal processes
- Digital marketing – reaching out and connecting with customers in innovative ways
Taha then defined the many initiatives these five key enablers would need to support, including digital customer engagement, an enterprise data hub, predictive analytics, a customer journey hub, field service management, marketing management analytics, AI, and a half-dozen or so others.
The first solution, created in two days without a single line of code, used Power Virtual Agents to deliver an AI-driven bot to serve as a virtual agent that could handle routine customer inquiries and take action based on customer intent. In building the bot, the team used Microsoft Power Automate to orchestrate and automate the required interactions with various back-end systems and used out-of-the-box Microsoft Power Platform connectors to tie into those systems. TruGreen developers were able to start building their own workflows after just a few days of instruction by the Microsoft team, thanks to the intuitive, visual, low-code design environment in Power Automate.
For systems that didn’t have an API, UI flows—a robotic process automation (RPA) feature within Power Automate—provided a way to mimic the onscreen actions that an associate would take. “Obviously, we can’t upgrade our entire IT infrastructure at once,” says Taha. “With UI flows, we can integrate into existing systems to start delivering compelling new capabilities immediately and then modernize those systems at our own pace.”
The second solution showed TruGreen how it could easily use Microsoft AI Builder to augment its mobile app with AI to deliver new customer value. Built using Power Apps, the enhanced mobile app makes it easy for a customer to instantly learn about weeds or insects they don’t recognize. Customers capture an image using their smartphone, and the TruGreen app then sends the image to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, where Computer Vision (part of Azure Cognitive Services) identifies the specific weed or insect. The app then retrieves an appropriate article from TruGreen’s knowledge base and presents it to the customer, along with the option to schedule a visit by a certified TruGreen technician.
The CEO, John Cowles, recognized the important role of technology in the overall transformation of the company, as one of the drivers for growth and productivity. Taha indicated it would require a big culture shift, and their entire C-suite—many of whom joined TruGreen in recent years, quickly agreed that they couldn’t remain competitive without transforming their approach and use of technology. As CIO, Taha's job is to set the technology strategy for digital transformation, and then to execute on it. A critical factor to enabling digital transformation initiatives is the collaboration with their digital marketing team, under the leadership of Chief Growth Officer, Anthony Conversa. Examples of changes TruGreen are seeing today are; as soon as customers click or tap ‘chat,’ they will be connected to our virtual agent, which will take action on their behalf, based on the dynamics of the conversation. "They’ll also have increased, 24x7 access to TruGreen expertise, such as our knowledge base, without having to wait on the phone. By using Power Virtual Agents and Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, "we can provide even more proactive and predictive services to our customers,” says Taha. TruGreen is freeing up call center associates to spend more time on higher value tasks and complex customer issue resolution.
Azure Cognitive Services (AI)
Computer Vision (AI)
Dynamics 365 Customer Insights
Dynamics 365 Remote Assist
Power Virtual Agents
D365 Customer Service
D365 Customer Service
Through TruGreen’s use of Microsoft technology, Taha is unlocking significant new value—for customers and for TruGreen. For example, with the bot developed using Power Virtual Agents, customers no longer have to wait on the phone to speak with a customer service associate for basic inquiries and concerns. Customer service associates and field service technicians will also benefit from interactions with Power Virtual Agents through their own, internal apps. For example, when a customer calls on the phone and wants to change an address, instead of the customer service associate making the change in all the different systems manually, the associate can simply have the virtual agent do it. As TruGreen uses Power Virtual Agents for other ongoing initiatives, such as the enterprise data hub and machine learning infrastructure, the customer experience will continue to get richer. If a customer calls and says, ‘I haven’t seen an improvement after three visits,’ we’ll capture that data point with the bot and use it to determine what the issue might be. We plan to collect all the data we can and use it to offer additional services customers might want, optimize service delivery and quality, and more. Ultimately, it’s all about increasing customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.
Using smartphones, field service technicians will have access to image recognition capabilities and knowledge base articles that TruGreen plans to deliver in its customer-facing mobile app. It’s just one-way they plan using AI to extend TruGreen’s expertise in the science of lawn care to the point of service and make its technicians more productive/knowledgeable while onsite.
Memphis, Tennessee-based TruGreen is the nation’s largest lawn care company across the US with lawn-serving more than 2.3M customers in tree and shrub care, and mosquito control services.TruGreen believes more life should be lived outside and is committed to providing a beautiful lawn to serve as the foundation for outside experiences and lifelong memories.