Award-Winning Strategy

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

New CEO Thomas Richards unveils aggressive plans to push into IT services.


It’s that philosophy—along with a defined customer service, feedback and assistance strategy—that won CDW the Forrester Research Voice of the Customer award in 2010. CDW was one of only three winners; the other two were Dell and American Express.

"CDW has implemented a disciplined approach to listening to customers on a regular basis and having processes in place to take action on what they hear," said Andrew McInnes, a customer experience analyst at Forrester.

For instance, the program includes surveying a large percentage of CDW’s customer base to get feedback on their experiences. Those survey responses, in turn, present the company with opportunities for follow-up.

In addition, CDW’s "VoC" (Voice of the Customer) platform generates "hot alerts" based on business rules programmed into the system, automatically routing issues to designated employees and tracking responsive actions to make sure adequate resolutions are reached, according to Forrester.

CDW uses its alerts for both service problems and sales leads—an approach that has paid off. In 2009 the system enabled the company to resolve thousands of service issues and generate millions of dollars in incremental revenue. And, as everyone in the industry is aware, 2009 was not a year known for high spending in the IT market.

CDW also customized its surveys to meet the needs of particular customers and employees. Surveys are tailored for both active, high-volume customers and inactive, low-value customers. The more engaged group receives more frequent and more detailed surveys.

In addition, employees at CDW receive different types of reports. For instance, executives receive high-level quarterly reports, while sales managers receive semi-annual reports on their direct employees that are timed to coincide with performance assessments.

CDW also provides incentives to employees to prioritize the customer experience. Account managers get feedback from their individual accounts, and they become eligible for promotions to senior or executive levels only when they achieve increasingly high customer satisfaction scores. Employees can also win various job perks—such as the privilege to work from home—based on whether they receive positive customer feedback.

Employees are the key to expanding CDW’s services footprint.

"We’ve got really talented people, and they are very entrepreneurial and competitive," Richards said. "We’ve been making incremental investments in employees to expand in those areas that we’ve been talking about."

With his plans to increase resources around services in cloud and mobility, Richards continues to push CDW forward.

"We’ve been on a pretty consistent march since the end of last year," he said, "and we will continue to expand service delivery and our sales organization as we go into next year. We are building a 2012 plan."

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com