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Brown strikes gold with new customer game plan

Measuring customer satisfaction and increasing collaboration between sales and marketing helped shipping giant UPS transform itself from a one-trick pony.

BOSTON -- When it comes to the customer experience, United Parcel Service Inc. has an unofficial motto, according to its vice president for U.S. sales and marketing.

"In God we trust, everything else we measure," said Dale Hayes at the recent Frost & Sullivan Sales and Marketing event. @4630

Measurement and re-focusing organizational efforts helped the Atlanta-based company build loyalty and acquire new customers as it transformed itself from a shipping to a services company, Hayes said. UPS now not only delivers packages but offers supply chain and financial services.

UPS created a customer satisfaction index to determine how the company was meeting its customers' expectations. The company then began using that index as a model to identify customers likely to churn. All complaints that came in to the organization are measured against the norm for that type of customer and are flagged if the client shows a propensity to jump ship.

"Sales then gets [the report] and we often know if there's a problem before the customer does," Hayes said.

The 88,000 UPS drivers are told about potential customer complaints every morning in daily briefings, but the information goes out to everyone in the organization as well.

"The real benefit comes from distributing the information to people who don't deal with customers on a day-to-day basis," Hayes said. For instance, accounting staff and executive management see the reports so they can become more focused on the customer.

Additionally, UPS takes the customer satisfaction ratings of its competitors and sizes itself up against those results, Hayes said.

As UPS has evolved, marketing and sales both had to get on board and work closely together. As a symbol of the evolution, last year UPS altered its logo from a shield with a package wrapped in string on top to just the shield.

This year, UPS began the process of segmenting its customer base. Customers are broken out into one of four categories: manufacturing; retail; large Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE); and small FIRE.

Hayes said customers are seeing the results.

In the retailing segment, UPS helped Malis-Henderson, a bridal veil retailer in Montreal, shorten its 30-day cash cycle to three days, Hayes said. UPS provided warehousing space inside the United States, so it could bulk ship products rather than send them on an individual basis as Malis-Henderson had been doing. It also extended COD payment services.

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