|December 11, 2000|
CDW Thinks Everyone's A Customer
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So CDW helps Fluck track that. The Vernon Hills, Ill., reseller matches a bar code on every order to a bar code on the invoice, so all shipments can easily be logged into Rohn's customer-asset records. "The service is phenomenal," Fluck says.
For CDW's sake, it had better be. CIO Jim Shanks knows too well that the same computer products it sells can be bought from other resellers, directly from the manufacturer, or in retail stores, so he considers the customer experience the critical deal-sealer. To make sure it is, Shanks says he has to market efficient Internet tools not just to buyers, but to the CDW sales reps who cater to them. If those people are wasting time taking orders by phone, they're not building relationships and solving problems. "Companies miss the mark on the internal marketing that needs to encompass the sales process," Shanks says. "We work hard to ensure the account managers see how the Internet can free up their time."
CDW employs 1,052 of those account managers, even though much of the ordering is done directly online. James Siegel, who manages Fluck's Rohn account, speaks with Fluck almost daily, checking the accuracy and compatibility of Rohn orders and trying to prevent problems.
Then there's technical service. Besides online chat sessions with technicians, customers can download software that allows CDW staff to hook up to a machine and work on problems remotely. However, some problems belong to the company that built the equipment, so CDW houses representatives on site from many major vendors. When Fluck had trouble getting a maintenance agreement registered for a switch from Cisco Systems, Siegel put him in touch with the Cisco representative directly. "Otherwise, I would have to spend more time digging up information and finding the right people," Fluck says.
For now, CDW's efforts are paying off, as shown in the company's third-quarter report released in October--sales were up 51% to $1 billion compared with the same period last year, and earnings per share were up 63% to 49 cents.
But Shanks says there's more work to do, and he's turning his sights on better service to a different customer: technology vendors. He says CDW has to offer vendors customer service that not only outshines other resellers, but is better than a direct-from-the-manufacturer sales model. "If all we are is a pass-through between the customer and the vendor, then we have no value."
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