I just read an interesting case study in the August edition of Destination CRM on CDW entitled, “Communing with Customers” (http://bit.ly/ataayF).
I’ve been reading a lot about the power of online communities in the B2C space. It’s interesting to see how CDW has done this with a B2B target of IT professionals.
CDW has created communities for networking and focused on the gathering voice of the customer information. They are leveraging the findings from these communities to create a sales academy for their account managers.
CDW reached out to the community to determine how they would like to be contacted to ensure they are creating a dialogue with customers in their preferred media.
CDW then segmented their clients into seven different communities — each with its own portal. Within the portal, members are encouraged to share thoughts on buying habits, spending plans and business challenges. This gives CDW account managers an advantage when they reach out to a customer since they already know their “hot buttons” and other pieces of information that will help establish a relationship and one-on-one dialogue.
Repeat CDW customers are invited to join a community with a small monetary incentive and then asked to participate in surveys and provide feedback. The conversation is driven by both CDW and participants.
The participants realize the purpose of the portals is to help CDW sell more. Yet, the benefits are mutual since CDW can develop products and services to better meet the needs of their customers and the customers have the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals.
The results of the communities are impressive:
- Average customer value is up 17% versus the previous year.
- Average revenue is up 32% among new customers.
- Community-trained account managers generate an average of $2,000 more per customer in annual revenue versus those customers serving themselves through the website.
- Ability to conduct surveys, run reports and gather consumer insights has been reduced to hours versus days or weeks.
Once again, what’s good for B2C is good for B2B. What experience do you have with online communities?