Secret of My Success: Breaking News: A CRM Success Story

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  • What problems were you facing? These surveys are helping us guide the strategic changes in our company. We're a 165-year-old newspaper company evolving into a multimedia organization in the 21st century, and internal change was called for in order to make significant shifts in the business strategy. Many of our products and audience are now digital--there was a big change in the culture of the newspaper and the skill sets within our employee base, so having a surveying tool that would provide us with direction and feedback was critical. We needed an accurate, secure surveying solution to measure both customers and employees to assist in the change of our corporate culture and to prioritize changes based on its findings. Ten years ago we launched Cincinnati.com. From the beginning, we used surveying solutions from various vendors, but we were unhappy with the majority of the tools we used. We were never completely satisfied, and I felt that there wasn't anything on the market that had the flexibility and price to meet our needs.
  • How did you select the vendor? I kept my eyes open for a tool that would fit our needs. A little over two years ago, I did a search on the Web and discovered WebSurveyor. We tested the product out with a couple of surveys and were impressed. The solution was intuitive and easy to use, which was good for our newspaper because we don't have a lot of tech-savvy people. Within a year we moved nearly all of our surveys onto WebSurveyor.
  • What do you use the solution for? We use the surveys for both internal and external measurements. To boost our readership, we conduct reader interaction surveys. We'll survey the readers to gauge their opinion about certain topics and then write articles based on the results. For example, we did a survey about how Cincinnati felt about the Great American Ballpark, home to the Cincinnati Reds. Over 6,000 people ranked the stadium and provided their personal opinions. This resulted in some great articles. We've taken a similar approach to measure the attitudes of younger demographics toward certain topics. We also use it for usability research for our Web site. When we launch a new feature or product on the Web, we'll do awareness and attitude surveys. This helps us gauge things such as site navigation, educating users about new features, and Web-site design. We also use surveys to receive feedback about professional services we offer other companies, such as our major advertising accounts. Being able to offer them a Web-based research solution that we manage on their behalf has been huge. For example, shortly after implementing WebSurveyor, we partnered with key local institutions and organizations and conducted two surveys to assess attitudes about Cincinnati among the people who live in the market and outside the market. The findings of the survey helped civic and business leaders in our community to understand that the greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky region was not communicating its benefits as a place to work, live, and play. A new branding strategy was created and the result is the CincinnatiUSA.com Web site. Many key local organizations, such as the regional Chamber of Commerce, now work with us and have incorporated the CincinnatiUSA brand.
  • What have been the main rewards? The Web site is now the top-rated news Web site for local news in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Thanks to the reader surveys we conduct, we've seen an increase in page views, views per visit, and visit durations, metrics that affect our bottom line. Our response rates for most surveys are phenomenal, usually between 60 and 70 percent, depending on the type of survey. And thanks to our in-house employee surveys, employee productivity and satisfaction are higher. 5 Fast Facts
  • Age of the initiative? We launched our CRM initiative in 2002.
  • Who Was Involved? General manager of Cincinnati.com, deputy managing editor/digital content, online sales manager
  • Best Idea? WebSurveyor's skip-logic capabilities can be used to produce things other than surveys, such as tests and quizzes.
  • Biggest Surprises? The sky's the limit if you have a flexible tool that you really understand well. A consistent method of agent scheduling across various locations
  • Biggest CRM mistake made? We failed to invest in the right solution the first time. Assess the company's needs before investing in the tool.
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