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For Girl Scouts, Technology Transforms More Than Cookie Sales

October 04, 2016

With what’s tantamount to a transformation of its communications process and technology, the 104-year-old organization is bringing ts customers a thoroughly 21st-century experience.

There are 1.9 million girls in Girl Scouts of the USA. Even as recently as a year ago, the enterprise had been primarily communicating with this large membership base in analog fashion, such was the state of its digital communications tools.

No more. With what’s tantamount to a transformation of its communications process and technology, the 104-year-old organization is bringing the people it considers its customers—the girls, another 800,000 adult volunteers and parents, and eventually, 59 million alumnae—a thoroughly 21st-century experience. In so doing, it hopes to buttress both its membership numbers and financial support.

“Before, it could take one-to-two months after a parent expressed interest to get their child into a troop and up and running, and now we can do it sometimes in an hour or two,” says Customer Engagement Executive Susan Swanson. “It’s game-changing for us.”

While youth groups have struggled for broad societal reasons to keep their membership levels up, Girl Scouts wants to focus on possible ways to boost numbers, and it believes technology is one. With Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez working alongside council leadership across the country, Girl Scouts has moved toward a digitized and simpler customer experience, thereby enticing volunteers and girls to join. “It’s a unique and great opportunity,” Swanson says.

One of the product outcomes of Girl Scouts’ latest digital transformation is a Volunteer Toolkit, a first of its kind for Girl Scouts in general and also in how it supports its volunteers. “In the toolkit, volunteers have turnkey planning resources that help them plan their year and deliver the Girl Scout Leadership Experience program to girls,” Swanson says. “They can also customize meeting plans if they wish, but we find that new volunteers really like the turnkey resources. The toolkit also supports volunteers with administrative functions like emailing parents and tracking girl attendance. Now, they not only have a consolidated digital tool, but they also have a consistent experience.”

Girl Scouts leadership took a year to develop a strong, strategic, technology-focused plan, but in that time, it became apparent that the challenges were too numerous, and best-in-class technology advancing too quickly, for the group to go it alone.

“We decided to bring in outside vendors to implement CRM case management and content management system solutions,” Swanson says. “We have a very large scale of customers, millions of people, and many more millions of prospects and alumnae to pull in, and huge amounts of data. It’s amazing how we can now have consistent and responsive communications, reaching a large customer base.”

(As part of this tech renaissance, as of 2014, girls are also now able to sell cookies online via the national Digital Cookie™ platform, the online extension of the iconic Girl Scout Cookie Program allowing girls to sell cookies via mobile or web.)

Swanson says the enterprise is using the CRM system to track calls coming in to customer service, so that it can measure satisfaction. “This also allows our organization to figure out best practices, which councils do what tasks better, and then to share those results with everyone electronically,” Swanson says.

In addition to improving the customer experience through CRM, Girl Scouts also wanted to improve the quality and consistency of content delivered to its customers through web and mobile. “This is where the content management system comes in,” Swanson says. “Across our 112 councils throughout the country, if you looked at each council’s website three years ago, it was anything and everything, and there was no mobile capacity at all. We wanted to bring consistency of communication to our customers.

“In fact,” she says, “we’re just starting to tap into what these products can do for us, and we can see what we want to grow into over the next three years. It’s already impressive, and the future is, too.”

For more insights on how technology is changing the customer experience, read the whitepaper, The Tie That Binds.

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