Warming Up to Customers at Sub-Zero
In order to maintain close brand relationships, luxury kitchen appliance maker needs to know — exactly — where customers are
The ultimate aim of customer relationship management (CRM) systems is to make a company come across less like a corporation and more like a friend. Whether an interaction is in person, online or on the phone, a high-end brand like Sub-Zero will instantly recognize who you are, remember the products you own, and know your support issues: past and present.
The Wisconsin manufacturer already has the designs and market reputation that create an easy rapport. Homeowners and interior designers find kitchen-makeover inspiration paging through catalogs of Sub Zero refrigerators and freezers, or browsing online through cooking ranges and ovens from the company’s companion brand, Wolf.
Cold storage with a warm reception
Sub-Zero strives to extend this friendly brand interaction throughout the customer’s relationship with the product. The challenge comes with maintaining CRM data quality under a steady stream of homeowner touch points at many stages of the ownership cycle and through many different communication channels. Sub-Zero’s solution for recognizing customers in these varied situations is rooted in effective address management.
"When we receive new contact information, it’s usually a request for information. From there, we’ll send a product brochure by mail," explains Database Administrator Jason Van Pee. "When a customer registers their product, again we get contact information, although through a different source, which often does not match up exactly to the original contact information we received. On average, we handle about 2000 addresses every day. Not all of them are new addresses. Many are customers that we match to existing records."
The problem of customer identification
Maintaining reliable customer data from just a single point-of-access is difficult without a method to detect errors. Sub-Zero, however, receives multiple inquires from residential households before and after they become customers, and through different channels.
Take names for example, a household might initially contact the company under the name "Robert Greene." Next time, he might say his name is Bob. The third time the operator might misspell his name as "Green." His wife, Patricia, might make warranty inquiries. But she also sometimes goes by "Pat." And, did you know she kept her maiden name "Rakowski"?
Sub-Zero needed a unique identifier, a way to match a household with its account. Telephone numbers no longer work as a unique identifier, the rise of cell phones took care of that. Email accounts have the same issue. The most effective method is the postal address. Except that addresses can be written and recited in many different variations.
"A customer might spell an address ‘First Street’ once and ‘1st ST.’ the next," says Van Pee. "The CRM database by itself would interpret each as a different location."
Putting all addresses in correct form
Sub-Zero’s solution: to supplement their CRM software with an address verification application from Satori Software called MailRoom ToolKit Architect. Just as spell check corrects common misspellings in real time, the Satori address verification process checks every variation of cardinal numbers, directions and abbreviations, and automatically changes it into the USPS® preferred format.
Architect easily runs as a behind-the-scenes procedure, delivered through COM and .NET architecture. The integrated address verification routines inform customer service representatives the moment an address doesn’t match a valid USPS delivery point. If there is a mistake, operators can ask the customer to confirm the address.
Eliminating database duplicates
Address management gives Sub-Zero the ability to recognize customers more accurately. By eliminating duplicate customer records, Sub-Zero also eliminates confusion and costly mistakes.
"We verify all addresses that enter our system," says Van Pee, referring to phone, web forms, email, and postal points of contact. "The address management system makes some adjustment about 80 percent of time. Again, not all are wrong, but consistent CASS format improves comparison."
Van Pee’s department customized a "certify" button for the call center. After verification, the representative can press ‘certify’ and the system compares the address to all other entries in the CRM system. If there’s a match, the current call is added to the existing customer record — rather than creating a new database entry.
"We use batch-cleansing before we sync large amounts of data," says Van Pee. "For example, we use an external vendor to handle our email marketing. This vendor allows customers to update their contact information. We sync with this external database once a day. When we perform the sync we run a batch-cleansing process to insure the address is in a format that matches the rest of our CRM database. We use a similar process for web forms, but we sync that data more frequently."
Adding up the value of data quality
Van Pee reports that, "Architect definitely saves Sub-Zero time and money." For companies sending out full-color catalogs that are undeliverable or returned, the costs add up, perhaps $1 per print, up to another $1.50 in bulk mail postage and return fees — especially considering the typical undeliverable rate of 10 to 25 percent.
The elimination of duplicate CRM entries provides tangible value, even if it’s a little more difficult to quantify. "It definitely cleans our data," says Van Pee. A friend wouldn’t send two party invitations to a couple, nor does Sub-Zero want two catalogs to go to spouses in the same household. In the end, Sub-Zero strives to provide the personal touch expected of luxury appliances — and Satori Software solutions help close the gap between impersonal forms and top-notch service.
About Sub-Zero, Inc. and Wolf
Sub-Zero, Inc., is the leading manufacturer of American-made luxury refrigeration, freezers, and wine storage units, and it leads in product design with its built-in and integrated lines. Founded in 1945, Sub-Zero is a privately held company in its third generation of family ownership. Headquartered in Madison, Wis., Sub-Zero, Inc., also operates a manufacturing facility in Phoenix, Ariz., and has over 1,350 employees. For more information about Sub-Zero and Wolf, please visit www.subzero-wolf.com.