Scotts Gets to the Root of the Problem

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Customer Service
Customer Service

Executives at Scotts Miracle-Gro saw the potential of capturing the data from the company's 1 million contact center calls per year and started acting on the information a few years ago. Ed Billmaier, senior director of relationship and interactive marketing for the provider of lawn and garden products, says Scotts established a system of coding that scores every piece of data-for example, it scores against 1,600 "reason" codes to track issues, such as regions, varmints, and plant diseases. The goal of the scoring was to enable Scotts to leverage the data strategically.

According to Billmaier, the company began by creating a consumer insights alerts (CIA) group. The marketing department operates CIA, which includes a full-time analyst examining opportunities in the coded data.

Scotts then started analyzing and acting on one particular code-infestations. For example, if the analyst notices an increase in calls in Florida about fire ants, CIA creates a presentation and pushes it to the sales force. The sales team from the affected area assembles materials, such as a map that depicts the intensity of the ants, and then takes them to the retailers in the area to show the infestation's proximity. The result? The most recent project yielded a $400,000 increase in sales in two weeks. "The whole secret was we collected this analyzed data and served it up to [sales] on a silver platter," Billmaier says. "We didn't need a whole IT group."

In addition, Scotts shares the data with a major home improvement retailer (Scotts declines to mention the name), so the retailer can stock products based on approaching infestations. Joe Sanda, president and CEO of Astute Solutions, which provides the system that powers Scotts' business intelligence solution, says it's important for companies to act quickly without involving IT. "It often takes a lot of time to be responsive to a market. It's imperative to have information on the fly."

To support the targeted sales initiative, Scotts has developed an email reminder service to customers in affected areas to tell them how they should treat the particular infestations. Currently 750,000 people are registered for the emails.

Future plans include launching a public service announcement via radio broadcast next year to warn customers of approaching infestations and (like the emails) to offer treatment advice. Beyond radio, Scotts is looking at the potential of leveraging mobile marketing to send alerts and encourage customers to download RSS feeds. Also, its website will eventually offer automatic infestation alerts tailored to customers' plant purchases. If, for example, a customer grows roses and lives in New York and there's an infestation headed her way, she receives an alert when she logs on to Scotts' website.

It only takes one bug to destroy a customer's hard work, so for Scott's, the decision to become more analytical made perfect sense, both for customers and the company's bottom line.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION