Write an executive summary (see guidelines in syllabus). Feel free to write in either Spanish or English.
Focus: Overnight delivery of packages
Cultural Conflict: Dealing with differences between Brazilian personal style and new corporate policy
Kelm, Orlando R., Mary Risner. Brazilians Working with Americans: Cultural Case Studies. Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press, 2007. Pp 196.
Executive Commentary: http://www.laits.utexas.edu/orkelm/casos/intro.html
In a recent movie, Tom Hanks spent four years on an island in the Pacific Ocean, yet still delivered his guaranteed package. In this case, a policy change at World Ship may not seem very dramatic, but it left some Brazilians wondering if life on an isolated beach would not be so bad. World Ship has operations all over the globe and a local office in Salvador, Bahia. Clóvis Oliveira has been the branch manager of the Salvador office for the past three years, and one of his top sales executives is Nelson Barbosa.
Last year, World Ship introduced a new focus called Primary Customer Prioritization (PCP). World Ship prioritizes customers into three categories. For infrequent and low-revenue customers there are drop-off sites, pamphlets, online descriptions, and a host of other services that are available to all customers. These customers, classified as PCP 3, do not require any special, specific, or additional contact with sales executives. Mid-volume customers, who generate revenues of between five hundred and five thousand dollars per month, require additional assistance, and this is provided over the telephone through World Ship customer service representatives (CSRs). These customers are classified as PCP 2. High-volume customers, who generate revenues above five thousand dollars, are classified as PCP 1 customers; they receive direct visits from the sales executives of the local World Ship station.
Under the new guidelines, when a potential customer calls a sales executive, the sales executive asks the customer questions, creates a profile, and provides the customer with a phone number. Based on the answers to the profile questions, the new customer is categorized as PCP 1, PCP 2, or PCP 3. The new profile system is designed to be advantageous for both customers and sales executives. PCP 3 customers become aware of the services provided. PCP 2 customers, by using the CSRs over the telephone, receive assistance in tracking packages and advice in payment options. These levels of assistance leave sales executives more time to attend to the personal needs of the PCP 1 clients. The sales executives can be more flexible, have more time at their disposal, develop future projects, and be more focused on the changing needs of the PCP 1 customers. For example, before the new policy Nelson Barbosa worked with 200 clients, clients that he visited on a regular basis. Only 40 of those clients are now classified as PCP 1, but those 40 clients represent more than 80 percent of his total revenue in sales. The other 160 are now classified as PCP 2 and receive their services from CSRs over the phone.
So what is the downside of the policy? As Clóvis Oliveira explains, “Technically, the policy is one hundred percent correct. Culturally, it is on hundred percent complicated.” To begin with, it was culturally bizarre for Nelson to tell the 160 clients that he had been visiting, some for over three years, that he could no longer attend to them personally and instead they would have to call a number to talk to a representative on the phone. Brazilians want to be treated as special. The pleasure of doing business in found in the pleasure of dealing with people. “You mean you won’t be able to take care of me any more, Nelson. What do you mean you can’t come and see me? We can’t even go out for coffee, Nelson. Oh, Nelson, what’s going on at World Ship?” A similar problem arises when new potential customers give the sales executives a call. Culturally, it makes no sense for someone who is already talking to Nelson to be told, “You need to call the central office, build a profile, and then they’ll tell you who to talk to.” Every Brazilian on the planet will respond by saying, “But Nelson, what’s going on? I’m already talking to you, and now I need to talk to someone else to find out if I can talk to you?” That, however, is the way it is now at World Ship. Without knowing the buying potential, the sales executive cannot make personal visits. To be clear, World Ship is not refusing any customer. The company simply has different levels of assistance.
In addition to restricting visits to PCP 1 customers only, the home office also has a new set of guidelines for how often PCP 1 customers can be visited. Each kilometer traveled and every visit made must be reported. If a sales executive is allowed ten visits with a certain client, and he visits twenty times, he must answer to the station manager and the home office. The number of visits is determined by a matrix based on the revenues generated and any increase or decrease in sales. The home office has really been cracking down on how sales executives spend their time. Sales executives need to know the costs of time spent in visits that do not correlate to sales. A good portion of Clóvis’s time is now dedicated to helping sales executives understand the actual costs involved in how they spend their time. World Ship may be a global company, but in Brazil this is seen as a very “American” way of doing things.
Lately, the Brazilians have been discovering ways to getting around the new policy. It is not their intent to do any thing illegal or underhanded, but they want to soften the harshness of the new policy for those old customers who no longer receive personal visits. For example, the station in Salvador has a secretary named Sandra. Of course, Sandra’s job is not to be a sales executive. However, the station receives a number of over-the-counter drop-off packages. Normally, these in-station deliveries do not account for more than two thousand dollars in revenues per month. Since the new policy, however, over-the-counter revenues are up to nearly thirty thousand dollars. Old clients simply go straight to Sandra. Sandra also seems to be enjoying more flowers and chocolates from grateful customers who thank her for tracking their packages.