Love, Romance, and CRM

Valentine's Day, the third busiest shopping day of the year according to the National Retail Federation, is one of the two busiest days for florists every year (The other? Mother's Day.). Most florists, therefore, can count on a profitable day. But to make the event truly memorable in terms of revenues and profits, florists need to have effective CRM systems and strategies in place long before February 14. Such is the case with UrbanFlorist.com, once a mom-and-pop florist serving only the Vancouver area. After realizing 1,000 percent growth in each of the past three years, the company estimates that 2005 will also be banner year, with 800 percent growth. Building such a business can't come just from profitable seasons around Valentine's Day and Christmas, according to Alif Somani, CEO of UrbanFlorist.com. "It comes down to year-round volumes. You need year-round volumes so that you can put in the infrastructure to support it. You can't just invest in the spikes. You fall flat on your face if you do that. You have to have business all year." CRM is the driver behind the entire infrastructure, according to Somani. The first step is with the supply chain. The company hand-selected its florist affiliates and vendors. In-depth quality assurance testing ensures that the affiliates and vendors continue to meet UrbanFlorist.com standards. "You're only as good as your last sale," Somani says. To enhance the distribution chain, the company formed strategic relationships with other online services, including Yahoo! and Google. The company built its database the hard way--with pencil and paper--before building to a size where it could build its own proprietary database of customer information. Employees continue to add to the database because, unlike other florists, it makes a habit of calling flower buyers and recipients alike to get feedback on deliveries. "Most other florists never call the customer," Somani says. "The most important CRM system we have is customer feedback." The company looks at that feedback to determine if there are recurring complaints that need to be corrected, and if there are unique complaints or suggestions that may be worth addressing to improve the business. Along with responding to calls from UrbanFlorist.com, customers can also send emails to offer their commentary. An increasing number are using the electronic channel for feedback, according to Somani. Another way the company improved the business was to add an order management system from OrderMotion, which has enabled UnbanFlorist.com to eliminate 11 "people touch points" per order, enabling the company to handle more sales without adding staff. According to Somani, revenue per employee has jumped 15 percent, while cutting the company's fulfillment error rate in half. On-time delivery with the right order is critical in maintaining customer relationships. Before automation there was increased chance of errors and delays as the orders went from touch point to touch point. Somani credits the software with helping the company get orders out on time and properly. Related article: The Missing Link in CRM?
Using the Web to manage sales orders and customer satisfaction.
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