The following story was shared by Ferguson Enterprises, the largest plumbing wholesale distributor in North America.
Client: Ferguson Enterprises, a diverse wholesale distributor in North America.
Problem: Ferguson determined to increase its sales and profits through a customer loyalty initiative.
Cause: In search of an effective way to increase revenue, Ferguson's president and CEO read a book that made a business case for customer loyalty—claiming that return clients who proactively refer others result in repeat and new business. Ferguson joined forces with the book's subject matter expert and training professionals to launch a four-year customer loyalty imperative aimed at bridging the gap between customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Methods/tools: The marketing division at Ferguson took leadership responsibility for the imperative, and a project team comprised of cross-department staff and training partner representatives executed program tasks. The team designed the following phased approach to efficiently and cost-effectively deliver training to Ferguson's 19,000 associates in more than 1,000 locations across the United States. Each phase was rolled out in a one-year span of time:
- Orientation workshop. The team custom-designed and delivered an eight-hour customer loyalty workshop to all associates, featuring real-world business scenarios and "voice of the customer" videos.
- Customer loyalty principles. Participants completed monthly online modules (each approximately 35 minutes in length delivered in a four-lesson format) via the training partner's LMS to apply what they learned in phase one. Topics included "the difference between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty" and "how to earn loyal customers."
- Customer loyalty in action. Participants completed additional online modules to showcase their proficiency in using the customer loyalty principles at work and home. A focus group and survey feedback informed the training topics, which included "internal customer loyalty" and "react, respond, recovery +1."
- Customer loyalty mastery. This final phase offered mastery-level online modules with topics again identified by a focus group. Content included "achieving more with less" and "customer loyalty all-stars." Pre- and postmodule assessments measured skills gained along the way.
Results: Ninety-two percent of trainees surveyed reported value in the training, and 83 percent reported implementing changes on the job. Ninety-four percent of surveyed customers said they would recommend the company to others without reservation. Ferguson increased its gross profit by $3.04 billion over a four-year period and earned approximately a 456 percent return on the training investment.