The individual customer is a relative unknown quantity for many companies. Enterprises with mainly indirect sales often know too little about the individual buyers of their products. But certain personal information about consumers is essential for manufacturers if they are to extend their product range in line with customer needs and thus generate new sales.
This was the challenge also facing electric power tool manufacturer C & E Fein. The family-run company with a long tradition, based in Stuttgart, Germany operates on the international stage and offers tools for industry and trades – from cordless drills through to angle grinders – via specialized dealers. The manufacturer supports the dense trader network around the world via its external sales team, which maintains close contacts with sales partners. For example, employees inform the dealers about new products, supply them with advertising brochures, handle product placements, and discuss sales figures. At Fein, information exchange with sales partners is therefore good – but there was room for improvement in direct contact with the end users of the tools.
A bonus for informative customers
Reason enough for the enterprise, steeped in tradition, to find new channels for addressing its target group. With closer customer contact, Fein hoped to generate fresh impetus for innovation and quality assurance, among other things. In addition, the move towards greater alignment with customer wishes aimed to lay the foundation for continued profitable growth. To be able to extend the range to include new, industry-specific solutions, it is important for the manufacturer to know which consumer groups in the areas of metal, vehicle construction, and interior works use which tools.
Since April 2005, Fein has been finding out this information via an online portal, and in return, offers its customers an extended warranty as an additional bonus. A customer who registers a tool on the “Fein-Plus” homepage up to four weeks after buying a tool is given a three-year warranty. The previous conventional warranty was two years for private customers and one year for commercial buyers.
Minimal effort, maximum effect
The new warranty homepage is based on the mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM) solution. The company has been working for many years with SAP solutions, including SAP R/3, SAP Business One, and SAP Business Information Warehouse. Since 2004, the external sales team has been using the Mobile Sales application from mySAP CRM for dealer support.
On the basis of mySAP CRM and SAP NetWeaver, the SAP partner Movento developed an application that customers use to register online. Ease of use and data input were paramount, as buyers of tools do not generally use the computer widely for work. In addition, the company didn’t want to frighten them off with too many questions.
After an implementation period of just three months, the warranty portal was up and running, and can now be accessed on Fein’s home page. To register, customers use an online form to fill out general information such as name, address, or field of business, and enter the serial number, tool type, and date of purchase of their new Fein tool. Wherever possible, selection menus simplify data entry. Once the information is complete, the customer can print out the warranty certificate. The customer can then enter user name and password to access data at any time, in order to find out the tool for which the extended warranty is valid and when this expires, for example. A number of security measures protect the customer information and the Fein intranet against unauthorized access. For example, the network connection is protected by HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), and the data is SSL-encrypted (Secure Sockets Layer).
The offer has struck a chord with customers. Since the start of the warranty portal, more than 10,000 have registered their tools, half of them in Germany. As the data is automatically transferred to mySAP CRM, Fein was able to build up a considerable database of customer information in a very short space of time and with minimal effort. The portal is currently available in 28 countries, including European countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa. In subsequent steps, Fein now wants to make it available in other countries. To enable the various character sets, it will first be converted to Unicode. As a result, customers in Russia or China will also be able to fill out the form in their own language.
Step towards global marketing
With the help of the Segment Builder in mySAP CRM, data can be evaluated according to various criteria, such as individual countries, or certain tools or industries. As a result, marketing can target specific customers. Thanks to an enhancement to the Segment Builder, the tool manufacturer can add marketing attributes from mySAP CRM, for example, to the business partner data when the address lists are output.
For local marketing in the various countries, Fein currently still prints out the segmented addresses and sends them to the subsidiaries. In future, the company wants to provide its subsidiaries with access to the relevant information via a portal. For this, it will this year implement SAP NetWeaver Portal at its headquarters in Stuttgart. The subsidiaries will then be given the authorization to access this and will be able to independently manage the customer and prospect data locally.
For Fein, this is the step towards comprehensive global marketing, and in view of this, the company is planning to use campaign management from mySAP CRM more extensively in future. The functionality offered by this solution will enable Fein to plan various marketing activities and measure their success, for example. It also ensures that customers are targeted with relevant information, such as details of a new development for their industry.
This new closeness to the customer benefits all concerned. Sales partners also profit from the extended warranty and the company’s more targeted advertising measures, because they get to feel the benefit of the customers’ greater awareness at first hand.