CDW - High Touch in a High-Tech Era (1,778 words)
During Phase Two, students work in one of the company's showrooms to further perfect their people skills. Phase Three finds them back in the classroom learning more about technology.
"The training is rigorous," says Ross. "They even have to pass daily tests." The training doesn't stop after graduation; technology classes, often taught by vendor representatives, are held during work shifts and attendance is mandatory.
Once they become full-fledged account managers, reps are responsible for servicing a group of clients— no matter what medium those clients use to contact CDW.
Customers can learn about product offerings and/or place orders via various methods, including: the showrooms, magalogs, newsletters, telemarketing, an award-winning Web site and a customized extranet program.
Currently, CDW has two showrooms: the one in Vernon Hills, and another in downtown Chicago. However, showroom sales account for only a fraction of the company's revenues, says Ross.
CDW's e-commerce site is well-designed and intuitive. And in the fourth quarter of 2000, direct Web sales were more than 12 percent, or $125 million, of the total net sales of more than $1billion, says Ross.
But by far, the company's most innovative customer service initiative is its
b-to-b extranet program, CDW@work, which demonstrates personalized
b-to-b marketing at its best.
Extranets to the Rescue
Here's how the extranets work: Commercial customers are given their own CDW Web extranet (similar to a personalized Web site), complete with the client company's own logo displayed on the site. Currently, about 59,000 businesses actively access the CDW@work extranets.
The extranets, which were developed in-house using proprietary software and feedback from CDW customers, feature side-by-side product comparisons. In addition, they allow customers to get online quotes and prepare orders for approval within their own organizations. Customers' personal account managers review all extranet orders to ensure quality and product compatibility.