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17.6 Case Study: Virtual Works and PG Glass

Like many service industries, the glass-replacement industry is about speed, efficiency, and convenience. If a customer’s glass cracks or breaks, the customer wants it repaired or replaced as swiftly and conveniently as possible.

Keenly aware of the consumer’s decision-making criteria, market-leading Southern African glass supplier PG Glass constantly looks for ways to serve customers faster and more responsively than the competition. So when figures revealed that there were about 4.6 million regular Internet users in South Africa, the company went about finding better ways to exploit the Web channel for competitive advantage.

Managing director Rob Curle recognized that the latest generation of the Internet was capable of vastly more than simple brochureware hosting (i.e., a Web site that is an online brochure) and was determined to put Web and mobile technology to use more effectively in order to satisfy customers’ needs—and leapfrog conventional Web site capabilities.

After extensive research, PG Glass selected The Virtual Works to supply the specialist expertise and systems to put the Web to work strategically for the firm. The Virtual Works’ locally developed V3 system was custom configured to suit and now administers the PG Glass Web site’s back end. It makes it easy for customers to post a service request on the Web site without having to navigate through the whole site to find a solution. The system uses intuitive rules to automatically match a customer’s profile and need for service to the right resource at the right PG Glass franchise—and instantly distributes the inquiry to the mobile phone of the right person on the PG Glass side. The technology sends a reference number to the customer and then tracks service fulfillment using customizable rules to automatically alert PG Glass staff and managers to workflow delays by e-mail and short message service (SMS). Detailed reports provide the PG Glass team with service measures and benchmark data in order to immediately identify service interruptions or areas requiring improvement, as well as the information required to identify and reward employees for superior service performance. The system securely stores customer data in a unified system, making them available via a password and user identification protocol to PG Glass franchisees over the Internet on demand.

Thanks to the V3 system, most leads are precisely routed to the branch in just a few seconds—putting customer inquiries into the hands of the right PG Glass people hours before they would have gone to competitors.

The results so far have shown that investing in technology to implement and maintain CRM (customer relationship management) is not only vital in business but also extremely profitable. In the first eight months of V3’s operation, PG Glass experienced a 110 percent increase in Internet-generated leads, which translates into a significant increase in sales and an impressive ROI (return on investment) for the technology.

Other paybacks to PG Glass following the strategic application of Web services include the following:

  • The speed of response to customers’ needs and the reliability that flows from lead tracking have positively impacted the PG Glass brand.
  • The measurement of service workflow has resulted in a greater employee focus on customer service delivery.
  • The firm has achieved significant savings, as in-bound call volume has shifted to a significantly lower cost Internet channel. The costs of lead distribution and administration have also been reduced thanks to the Internet system.
  • Customized reports can also track transactions from leads to completion in order to establish performance benchmarks.

The PG Glass and Virtual Works Web sites are available at and, respectively.

Case Study Questions

  1. Why do you think it was important that PG Glass invested in this system? What do you think it says about the company? What do you think customers think about the company’s service, especially when compared to its competition?
  2. What elements of this CRM program make it more efficient and effective?