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Wajax—2x'ing Value With Promoters and Account Experience


Key Results: 

  • Promoters determined to be 2x more valuable than detractors using CustomerGauge revenue integration
  • 100% follow-up on account detractors and passives (wow!) using CustomerGauge
  • Justin Warren promoted as a result of program launch and results + hired team
  • Continuously growing NPS year over year since onboarding CustomerGauge

Business Overview:

  • Wajax, founded in 1858
  • Canada’s longest standing and most diversified industrial products and services providers

Business Operations Overview: 

  • 700,000 transactions with customers per year
  • average 3-4 interactions through individual interactions before purchase
  • 3-4 million interactions with customers per year
  • 100 locations
  • 10 major product categories

Key Quotes: 

"We've been able to compare all of our transaction data like revenue and tie that back to individual customers in CustomerGauge who have actually responded and the account revenue they represent. It's something that when we first measured back in 2018, it's been a measurement that's really stuck fairly consistently. In fact the gap between the amount of annual revenue spent between promoters and detractors has increased over time. That's one of those simple messages that has helped to get engagement that resonated."
"One of the things I've always really liked about the CustomerGauge platform is the ability to link increases in revenue based on moving the score over time. Some of the revenue simulation tools, that's how we get back to 'what's the average spend of a promoter vs. a detractor' and really trying to drive some of the models forward. "
"What we're seeing as the value as we go down this journey is the follow-up. We do telephone follow ups for every passive and detractor. Those always end up as good conversations, even though the customer may have originally been dissatisfied. The fact that their info didn't go into a black hole, someone actually read that feedback, and not only did someone read that feedback, someone took the time to follow up with the customer." 

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Wajax—A (Very) Long History of Serving Customers

A glance at the website of Wajax will explain the scope of their services. The company was founded in 1858, and is one of Canada’s longest standing and most diversified industrial products and services providers. The images are of enormous construction machines - but it’s all about the people in the business, says Justin Warren of Wajax, guest on this week's Account Experience Podcast. 

Justin, who is Senior Vice President at Wajax, is responsible for the company's industrial parts and engineered repair services business. Justin and his team serve B2B customers in the industrial space with ten major product categories through an integrated distribution model. 

Everything from heavier equipment like multi million dollar mining shovels to industrial mill supplies and everything in between. 

Over the last three years he led the team developing the Voice of Customer program. He talked to hosts Adam Dorrell and Cary Self about how they set up the program - and some of its successes. 

Wajax's Account Experience Program in the Beginning

The Net Promoter based program was all about measuring in its first year—He started NPS at the end of 2017 and wanted to take a very specific approach. Wajax mapped out the different journeys to more clearly measure and articulate feedback through the lense of the four major types of ways customers interact with them either through selling parts, equipment, providing shop or bill based service. 

Essentially, they set out to understand the critical interaction points and put a NPS score on these critical points. 

"Measuring is one thing, the most important thing to us is what we do with it and how do we focus our entire organization around some specific improvement priorities that our customers value." 

And not only that, they wanted to see how they compare locally, at the branch level, nationally, and ultimately, how one region was doing vs. another. With the complex account and divisional structures of Wajax, there was only one platform with the right B2B focus that could do the job: CustomerGauge's Account Experience software. 

Year 2 For Wajax—All About Action

"The measurement is one thing, but that's just the starting point. The value only starts to get created when you actually do something with the information. I've seen programs before and all the focus has been on gathering the information and reporting on it, and we're very passionate about doing something with it."

Justin and Wajax wasted little time in actually 'doing something' with the data. And here's the sad reality for most B2B experience programs: 

This is where most companies stop. 

They go on their merry way reporting on metrics and increases or decreases, but don't actually action the data to improve their business. Excuses for this range from "we are too large to do that" all the way to "we don't know how."

Wajax and other companies like DHL prove that it's completely possible to have meaningful conversations with clients at scale.

If year one of the program was about measurement and account coverage (% of accounts you receive feedback from), year two was all about action. In year two of the Wajax program, they took the feedback and based on the real-time analytics determined the top 3 areas for improvement. Then, using the segmentation capability of CustomerGauge, localized the feedback by location and then created action plans for more than 100 locations to start improving the overall experience for their key accounts.

Another major focus for Justin and team were key account plans and understanding Account Sentiment—or the sentiment across all three levels of an organization (front-line, middle management, and C-level). This is a key distinction in the Account Experience methodology and software that has been proven essential for thousands of B2B experience practitioners across the world.  

"A key area where we love the work that CustomerGauge does and where we're really well aligned is our key accounts program. The traditional approach from an industrial company is very B2B. We're living in more of a B2B2C world now.  A lot of work is really understanding that we might be talking about 100 or 200 people within a company, not just 1 company. Trying to drill down on strengths and weaknesses within different people in that specific account is where we're really trying to advance and develop the program further.We really recognize that if we want to grow as a business then the first step is making sure we have really good customer metrics because it's hard to grow an account if there's some underlying issues (like detractors)."

Promoters Worth 2x That of Detractors

Not only did they start looking at Account Sentiment in year two, but they also started to use the robust financial integration in the software as well. And what they found is about as close to a smoking gun for a B2B experience program: 

Promoters spend 2x the revenue vs. detractors. 

This powerful revelation helped drive focus for Justin's program at Wajax and added a substantial, tangible, business value to his program. 

There was no more questioning "was this worth the effort" or "is Net Promoter a real metric?" The data clearly showed the financial result of investing in a B2B Account Experience program, and the entire company was not only listening, but onboard. 

"We've been able to compare all of our transaction data like revenue and tie that back to individual customers in CustomerGauge who have actually responded and the account revenue they represent. It's something that when we first measured back in 2018, it's been a measurement that's really stuck fairly consistently. In fact the gap between the amount of annual revenue spent between promoters and detractors has increased over time. That's one of those simple messages that has helped to get engagement that resonated."

100% Follow-up Rate With Detractors and Passives 

"What we're seeing as the value as we go down this journey is the follow-up. We do telephone follow ups for every passive and detractor. Those always end up as good conversations, even though the customer may have originally been dissatisfied. With the fact that their info didn't go into a black hole, someone actually read that feedback, and not only did someone read that feedback, someone took the time to follow up with the customer." 

Want a magic bullet for your B2B experience program? This is about as close as you get—turning your detractors and passives into promoters by taking their feedback seriously and processing it as quickly as humanly possible. 

We already know promoters are worth 2x that of detractors—now imagine the revenue impact of focusing your entire program on turning them into promoters? Massive. 

Now, imagine seeing those revenue numbers go up, in real-time by division, location, region in a custom dashboard. 

Shameless plug for Account Experience here, but that's really the magic of it all! 

Justin and his team at Wajax were able to operationalize the data and catch these detractors and promoters off-guard, which in turn, moved many of them into the promoter bucket by simply showing that they cared about their feedback and it didn't actually go into a 'black hole' of customer feedback. Action is key to turning customer sentiment around.

The Future For Wajax's Account Experience Program

The focus on the customer is a core value at Wajax. They communicate the NPS score in their annual report, talk about the program internally at town halls, and communicate the value their customers get from the program. 

As a result, Wajax's scores have continually improved over time. Not only do they send transactional surveys, but they also send relational surveys focused on customer drivers, led by the learnings from the CustomerGauge experts. 

So now what's left you may ask?

Plenty according to Justin!

From a tactical level, Justin wants to continue to work on account response rates. Also to make sure account coverage in terms of customer base continues to grow over time. And finally, continue to utilize the CustomerGauge tool to expand the key account program and understand the drivers that positively impact customers.

"One of the things I've always really liked about the CustomerGauge platform is the ability to link increases in revenue based on moving the score over time. Some of the revenue simulation tools, that's how we get back to 'what's the average spend of a promoter vs. a detractor' and really trying to drive some of the models forward."

What Are Justin's Major Learnings Over the Years?

Well, he's certainly doing something right—Justin has been promoted and now has a full team behind him at Wajax. Justin knew tying his experience program to business outcomes like revenue were essential to make the program succeed, and it paid off personally and professionally. 

But his biggest learning?


Justin says communication and alignment are super important. Over communicate and do not rest on your laurels. If you think you've communicated it too much, communicate it one more time. Continually train your team about the program and why it's important. Share the success good and bad. 

The tendency in the early days is to be defensive—over time, Wajax has been able to overcome this defensiveness. As Justin says,  they're 

"In the business of managing people's perceptions. It doesn't matter what we think internally at Wajax, it matters what the Wajax customers think." 

And finally, what does Justin think is their biggest market differentiator?

Their expertise. 

So how do you provide consistent experience across 100 locations and 10 major product categories? 

You need a plan—an Account Experience plan.

Next Up: Financial Services Customer Experience: NPS® Guide

See How Your NPS Stacks Up!

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