Customer Service Drives Information Systems at Volvo Cars Belgium
You can often gauge the role of information systems within a business by evaluating how the chief information officer (CIO), or head of information systems, interacts professionally with the president, chief executive officer (CEO), and other highranking decision makers. At Volvo Cars Belgium, the company's Brussels-based subsidiary, the head of information systems, Michelangelo Adamo, who goes by the title "IT supervisor," reports directly to the customer service manager. This is unique since most individuals in Michelangelo's position would report to the CEO, president, or even chief operating officer (COO) or chief financial officer (CFO). The relationship of Volvo's IT supervisor to the customer service manager indicates Volvo's strong emphasis on customer service as a primary goal of the business. It also suggests a belief that information systems should always be designed in a manner that provides additional service to the customer. While Michelangelo is the IT supervisor for the 65- dealer network, his ultimate goal is to sell more cars, and to do so, he needs to make and keep customers happy. Consider the following example of customer service-driven information systems.
Recently Volvo Cars Belgium completed a massive information system implementation that connects the 65 Belgium
Volvo dealers over a common network, and to Volvo headquarters in Goteborg, Sweden. The overarching goal of the
project was to improve customer service. Through the new system, Volvo Cars Belgium is able to track a single car through its entire lifecycle; from the moment the order is placed, to delivery, to after-sale maintenance and customer service. This allows Volvo to see to it that customers get the right service at the right time, regardless of what dealership they visit. The system also speeds up repairs by allowing a dealership to order parts for a vehicle from Volvo suppliers at the same time the service appointment is made. The system also allows Volvo Cars Belgium to easily collect sales and service data and apply standardized performance metrics across the entire dealer network. This data is passed on to Volvo headquarters where it is used to target dealerships that need improvement and reward dealerships that excel.
Volvo Cars Belgium's new integrated information system illustrates the emphasis that the company places on customer service. The time and investment in the new system has paid off, with customer-approval ratings jumping for the first time in years.
1. Compare how the goals of information systems may differ if driven by the CEO, CIO, customer service, or equally by all business areas?
2. How did joining the dealerships with a common data network help Volvo Cars Belgium improve customer satisfaction?
Critical Thinking Questions
1. What other information systems could assist an auto dealer in improving customer service?
2. How can an auto dealer judge customer satisfaction, and how can information systems be used to compile an overall customer approval rating for a dealership?
Questions for Web Case
See the Web site for this book to read about the Whitmann Price Consulting case for this chapter.
The following questions cover this Web case.
Whitman Price Consulting: A New Systems Initiative
1. What advantages would the proposed Advanced Mobile Communications and Information System provide for Whitman Price Consulting? What problems might it assist
2. Why do you think Josh and Sandra have been asked to interview the managers of the six business units within WPC as a first step? As IT professionals, Josh, Sandra, and their boss Matt know much more about technology and information systems than the heads of the business units. Shouldn't they be able to design the system without suggestions from amateurs? Including more people in the planning stage is sure to complicate the process.
Critical Thinking Questions
1. If you were Josh or Sandra, what questions would you ask the heads of the six business units?
2. If you were Josh or Sandra, what additional research might you request of your IT staff at this point?