After years of running into roadblocks trying to ensure that its own service representatives could communicate effectively with one another while in the field, Pitney Bowes needed a new strategy.
Posted Aug 23, 2004
Pitney Bowes, a $ 4 billion manufacturer of mail- and document-handling systems, provides its customers with products and services that help deliver a smooth flow of information. But after years of running into roadblocks trying to ensure that its own service representatives could communicate effectively with one another while in the field, Pitney Bowes needed a new strategy. According to Mark Davis, vice president of customer service, Pitney Bowes' prior, home-grown system limited its ability to better understand and meet customers' needs.
"[Field service representatives] couldn't see the entire customer experience on our old legacy system," Davis says. "They didn't have tools to communicate with one another--nor were we able to push information out to them to enable them to be more effective, and deliver a greater level of service to our customers."
In search of a wireless solution that would allow field technicians to communicate effectively and exchange customer information while in the field, Davis says, Pitney Bowes implemented a three-prong approach using Siebel Field Service, Antenna A3 for Siebel, and various handheld devices, ranging from laptops to Palm Treos: "You can't disconnect one from the other. You've got to put these three tools in play, link them, and then you measure the benefits of the combined [tools]. You couldn't get the benefits without all three." The benefits Davis is referring to include the ability to communicate over multiple cellular networks, as well as to provide anyone from call center agents to field service reps with improved visibility into the entire customer experience.
The Antenna A3 for Siebel application provides technicians with real-time access to customer history information through handheld technologies, increasing field technicians' productivity. "In the old days, if I were to take a service call in the last month on a piece of equipment [at] a customer location and then you took a call the following week, you wouldn't have had access to what happened or wouldn't have known what had happened in that customer's environment," Davis says. "Now we have that capability--where the representative has access to all of that information through his or her handheld."
The Antenna software also notifies managers as to which technicians are on what assignment and what parts have been used. As inventory depletes, the Siebel Field Service application determines if a required part is available, sends parts information to a legacy inventory application, and connects to Pitney Bowes' SAP supply chain management system. This tracking-and-replenishment system helps to keep inventory adequately stocked and reduces the need to order emergency parts.
The two-year project was completed about 30 days ago, and was rolled out to approximately 1,000 call center agents and 2,000 field representatives. Concrete numbers have yet to be calculated, but Pitney Bowes projects an increase in productivity of between 5 percent and 8 percent, a reduction in emergency parts orders in the range of 20 to 25 percent, and an improvement in the first-call fix rate. "Combine all of these, and the story is pretty powerful to suggest that customer loyalty or customer satisfaction will increase as a result," Davis says.
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