While many companies talk about putting the customer at the center of what they do, few have actually reorganized themselves with that goal in mind.
CEMEX USA is an exception. Not only has CEMEX revamped its operations and made improvements up and down the supply chain to improve the customer experience, it has also leveraged customer engagement to turn a commodity business – selling cement products – into a competitive advantage.
Need proof? In 2006, the company ditched its automated voice response system as part of a new customer care center. All calls are answered by live operators who can access complete account information for each customer. The new system has helped increase order accuracy from 92% to over 99%.
More recently, CEMEX began using the insights it has been capturing from deeper customer engagement to drive new programs for an underserved segment: small businesses (see CEMEX: Let’s Get Small).
“Our mission is very simple: How can we make CEMEX the easiest partner to do business with?” says Ven Bontha, CEMEX USA’s vice president of customer experience. “That’s what our vision has been for the last 10 years, and we continue to focus on that.”
CEMEX established a single point of contact for small customers, with specially trained inside-sales professionals in the customer care center who could talk about products instead of just taking orders, as typical agents were trained to do.
CEMEX, with a customer base of about 30,000, has been looking for better ways to extend its customer experience programs to smaller construction firms and contractors.
Its operations, including its direct sales force, are tuned primarily to serve the company’s largest customers – the 20% or so that account for 70% of revenues. But Bontha’s team realized that without programs tuned for small customers, it was leaving a potentially significant amount of revenue on the table.
The company established a single point of contact for small customers, with specially trained inside-sales professionals in the customer care center who could talk about products instead of just taking orders, as typical agents were trained to do.
It also deployed business intelligence to find new ways to re-engage with smaller customers that were dormant or purchased infrequently. For example, business analysts used a combination of internal transaction data, such as purchase histories, and external market data, such as construction permit applications in various cities, to mine new insights about smaller customers and prospects. These efforts helped CEMEX triple revenue from small-business customers between 2012 and 2013.
Culture and Decision Making Are the Keys
As CEMEX has demonstrated, delivering exceptional customer experiences goes much deeper than a mission statement or marketing campaign. While every business leader likes to talk about being customer focused, the real challenge for leadership teams is embedding this mission into the organizational culture and then translating that mindset into the realities of day-to-day decision making.
To the victors go the sales: Forrester’s latest Customer Experience Index report finds that companies that outperform their peers in this area tend to have more customers who will make repeat purchases, won’t take their business elsewhere, and will recommend them to a friend – loyalty metrics that can drive millions in annual revenue.1