Cooking up success: Grill maker cuts call-center volume, customer complaints with CRM

When Memorial Day rolls around, millions of Americans get ready to start grilling. That’s when the phones ring at the call center for Meco Corp., manufacturer of the Aussie Outdoor Living line of electric, gas, and charcoal grills. Meco recently turned to customer relationship management software to handle the volume and garner customer feedback. <br/>

11/18/2008


Every year when Memorial Day rolls around, millions of Americans get ready to start grilling. That’s when the Meco Corp ., manufacturer of the Aussie Outdoor Living line of electric, gas, and charcoal grills.
Until recently, the call volume overwhelmed Meco’s staff of 12 customer service representatives. With 600 to 800 calls a day coming in during the peak grilling season from customers looking for troubleshooting help or for new parts for their grills, the Meco representatives were unable to answer all the calls. Some callers left messages, while others simply hung up.
Something had to change.
“We looked at all the options: Do we staff up, do we bring in temporary people, do we outsource it—all those things you look at from a customer service standpoint,” says Bob Hebner, Meco director of marketing.
None of those options were acceptable. Instead Meco turned to technology for the answer, and went with customer relationship management (CRM) software from RightNow.
With the RightNow system, Meco transferred knowledge from its customer service reps into a comprehensive, consistent database that customers access online to quickly answer their questions. The Meco reps also use the system to answer questions they receive via phone or email.
By making it easier for customers to find answers on the Web site, Meco reduced call volume by 50 percent. The Web site deflects “a lot of very high-cost phone calls,” claims Hebner. “So now the consumer can come in and troubleshoot their grill, get an answer, order a part—essentially do all the things you would expect to do over the Internet.”


Buyers of Meco Corp.’s Aussie Grills have a much easier time getting their questions answered since the grill maker transferred knowledge from its customer service reps into a database linked to a Web-based CRM system.

This is a very different experience for customers, Hebner adds. In the past, the company mainly focused on marketing itself to the retailers that carried its grills, rather than to the end users purchasing its products.
“We didn’t focus on the consumer end of the puzzle until we implemented the RightNow system,” he says.
It’s a move more manufacturers need to make, says Andrew Hull, director of product marketing for RightNow. He attributes this to something he calls the boomerang effect.
Even though Meco’s customers are retailers such as Lowe’s, says Hull, “ultimately it’s the consumer that actually comes back to Meco—not Lowe’s—with a question. With the Web, it’s even easier for consumers to reach original manufacturers.”
While the boomerang effect might be making it mandatory for manufacturers like Meco to be more responsive to end users, it also gives them a decided advantage. By using the RightNow system to track the types of questions its customer service reps are answering, Meco can tap into end-user experiences and use that information to drive product changes and development activities.
“As the marketing director,” says Hebner, “one of my goals is, of course, to get the word out about Aussie Grills while making the customer experience better, and uplifting the brand by taking consumer input and driving it back into the system. Being able to quantify this stuff is a tremendous asset from a marketing perspective.”





No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Controller programming; Safety networks; Enclosure design; Power quality; Safety integrity levels; Increasing process efficiency
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me