CDW - High Touch in a High-Tech Era (1,778 words)
they become full-blown, customer-relationship dilemmas.
Shanks agrees, adding, "The power of tight integration like ours really shines when you encounter bad situations. CDW's primary goal is to make each customer's day a little easier, whether that involves facilitating more efficient communication or providing better service."
CDW uses a proprietary transactional database system designed in-house by Shanks and his team. Why not use packaged solutions? Says Shanks, "A packaged solution can dictate what you can and can not do, how you handle a customer or a situation. We didn't want that. Our system is our competitive advantage."
The enterprise-wide database can, when prompted, issue detailed reports and has data-mining capabilities, all consolidated into a data warehouse that is easily accessible, says Shanks. "To gather whatever data is needed, we make business rules and assumptions, then work the data model.
"For example," he continues, "if we want to know the associated sales that go with a particular item or a particular customer demographic, we can easily drill down for the information. Or if we're doing a marketing mailing, we can do an ad hoc query with filtering to determine who are our best prospects and customers for the offer."
An interesting twist to CDW@work is CDW-Government (CDW-G), a wholly owned subsidiary that offers a specialized electronic platform just for procurement officers at local, state and federal government agencies. Customers get separate account managers who've been specially trained in the unique purchasing requirements and procedures of government agencies.
CDW-G is a good example of the drive for innovation that permeates this place. "Once we realized in 1998 that we had a lot of government agencies as clients," remembers Kremer. "We thought: 'Now how do we automate that specialized service? How can we make their customer experience with us better?'"
Which brings us to the final piece of this company's success—a relentless, high-spirited drive to improve processes and with it, customer service. Says Kremer, "We're stuck on continuous improvement. It's just a habit."