Monday, February 13, 2012

Girl Scouts Offer Lesson in Customer Relations Management

Advertising Age reports that a few weeks ago, Amanda Hamaker, the national manager for product sales of the Girl Scouts of the USA, received a phone call from a 5-year-old Daisy Scout. The little girl told Ms. Hamaker that she'd received a client list from her older sister, who had graduated from high school last year. The clients on that list were lifetime customers who could be counted on to buy cookies, as long as someone got in touch with them when cookie season rolled around. The ambitious young scout was just making sure that someone was her.

As the Daisy Scout knew even at the tender age of 5, the biggest challenge for cookie sales isn't a lack of customers; it's hungry people who don't know where to find cookies. To that end, the Girl Scouts doubled its 2012 investment in "cookie support" -- national PSA's and billboards that direct you to to help you get your cookie fix -- after the company saw a 7% sales increase in markets that received the support last year.

Along with the website, a mobile initiative was launched late last year to help people stalk down the cookies: The Girl Scout Cookie Locator app tracks your location and sends alerts as to where and how cookies are being sold nearby. While the cookie program is already a success -- it netted $760 million in gross profit last year -- the organization is in the process of implementing a national-level plan that emphasizes data collection and use.

Ms. Hamaker calls it "modernizing cookie technology," and the idea is to ultimately have a national cookie-customer registry, so even if girls move councils multiple times over the course of their Scouting career, they will be able to stay in touch with their customers.