What Does It Take to Win?

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
It takes empowered employees, data connected across the enterprise, streamlined processes, and most important, strategies and supporting technologies that build loyalty and strengthen customer relationships.

1to1 Magazine's Impact Awards annually honor end-user organizations whose customer-based strategies create business impact. This year's distinguished panel of independent judges evaluated finalists on the implementation and results of strategic customer initiatives in three categories: Customer Strategy, Organizational Transformation, and Technology Optimization. The Technology Optimization category covers such a span of technologies that to even the competition we split it this year into four subcategories: Full-Suite CRM, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service.

Customer Strategy winner Wachovia's focus on customer equity, its emphasis on households' lifetime value, and its targeted attention to the customer experience impressed the judges. Kay Lemon, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing at Boston College Carroll School of Management, says Wachovia's strategy "is a strong cross-functional effort, and its success within one aspect of the organization is leading to organic growth of the approach in other areas of the organization."

At GE Capital Solutions, growth is seen as a process that revolves around customers. That's one of the reasons the company won in the Organizational Transformation category. By applying Lean methodologies GE Capital Solutions has increased efficiencies and income. Kerry Bodine, principal analyst of customer experience for Forrester Research, said: "It was very clear how process improvements are centered on the user experience and involve employees from across the organization."

In Technology Optimization: Full-Suite CRM, Astra International implemented CRM to achieve transparent relationships with customers, allowing for savings and error reduction. "Astra Internationalis an exemplary case of using technology to be customer centric," says Sheryl Kingstone, director of CRM at Yankee Group.

Technology Optimization: Customer Service winner Bath & Body Works married insight with technology and as a result achieved such benefits as real-time customer feedback and multichannel integration. "The [success of] its technical implementation was measured not only by the impact of reducing costs and increasing productivity, but by a vision with an end goal of a positive customer experience," said Brynn Palmer, director of the customer experience at Charter Communications.

Ring Bros. Marketplace, an upscale grocery in Cape Cod, MA, scooped the top prize in the Technology Optimization: Marketing category. The retailer sends customized offers via customers' mobile devices. "Ring's use of technology demonstrates how even small organizations can leverage technology to improve their customer experience," says professor Robert Morgan, head of the department of management and marketing at the University of Alabama.

Finally, in Technology Optimization: Sales technology distributor Ingram Micro uses a Web portal to make it easy for customers to conduct self-service transactions. Martin Schneider, senior analyst of enterprise software at the 451 Group, says Ingram Micro saw its implementation as part of the larger picture. "The data integration behind the scenes and the understanding that it was enhancing, not changing, its partner ecosystem struck me as keys to the initiative's success," he says.

Whether it's transforming an entire organization or implementing a new sales technology, these leaders inspire ideas for building or breathing new life into any customer-focused organization. Read on for insight into initiatives and processes that may help you create your own winning strategy.

The winners