CDW - High Touch in a High-Tech Era (1,778 words)
And provide, they do. In 2000, sales reached $3.8 billion, up 50 percent from 1999. CDW processed 3.8 million invoices last year, up 30 percent from 1999. The average invoice amount in 2000 was $1,054, an increase of 15 percent from 1999. Its U.S. client list is more than 300,000 strong, 96 percent of which are business-to-business
(b-to-b) customers. It's the No. 1 authorized direct source for products from Compaq, IBM, Microsoft, Toshiba, Computer Associates and others.
While the stock price of this publicly traded company declined sharply during 2000, analysts brushed it off, citing a general down-turn in the computer industry. Since early January, CDW's stock price has rebounded about 20 percent.
Looking long-term, this is a company on the move. And it's a far cry from its humble beginnings. Founded in 1984 on the kitchen table of Michael Krasny, the company today employs more than 2,800 people corporate wide and was recently named by Fortune magazine as one of America's 100 Fastest Growing Companies. Says Krasny, "I didn't have a master plan or a Harvard MBA, but what I do have is a passion for technology."
Marry that to a passion for customer service, and you have a company whose stated business model is "Clicks and People."
School of Sales
CDW has four call centers in Illinois, each staffed with account managers. No ordinary customer service reps are these—all have graduated from CDW University's School of Sales, an in-house, customer service training program. In all, the company employs more than 1,000 account managers whose average tenure is one-and-a-half years.
Initial applicants for the account manager jobs are judged not for their knowledge of technology, says Gary Ross, company spokesperson, but for their ability to "smile over the phone." Once hired, they start the classes. Training is full-time and fully paid for the three to five months it takes to graduate. Phase One of the program is comprised of classroom instruction about the company, its culture, products and technology.