CRM Pitches a Help-Desk Tent

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Kampgrounds of America (KOA), North America's largest system of franchised and company-owned campgrounds, was having trouble tracking suggestions, complaints, and trouble tickets from its primary customers (the owners of the 450 KOA franchises throughout Canada, Mexico, and the United States). According to Jef Sutherland, vice president of information services, the existing KampSite proprietary campground management system in 2001 could track reservations as well as inventory and point-of-sale information for the convenience stores located at each KOA location. However, most issues were handled over the phone, because only 20 of the Kampgrounds franchises were initially on the KampSite system. When that figure quadrupled a few years ago, KOA officials sought an automated solution. When system users called or emailed in suggestions or had issues with the system, there was no good way to track it. "The success of KampSite depends on our ability to support the users," Sutherland says. "With 75 Kampgrounds on the system, we needed to scale in order to handle the growth. Our customers, the franchise owners, wanted us to have a better way to track these issues." KOA looked for a system that could be accessed via the Web so that these issues could be submitted at any time. Whereas now there are plenty of competitive products, in 2000 "there were slim pickings," according to Sutherland. The only company offering the functionality desired in KOA's price range was UniPress Software, through its FootPrints help desk application. KOA installed FootPrints on a centralized Linux server using FootPrints' built-in database. At the time of selection and implementation, CRM wasn't a consideration in the purchase. Once KOA franchisees and management started using Footprints, "we found that it was far more than a help-desk system," Sutherland says. The application enables KOA to store answers to technical issues and frequently asked questions online. In most cases, KOA franchisees can resolve issues on their own with this information. If they need more assistance, they enter a ticket into FootPrints from their own desktop to request support or enhancement, or report bugs. These days Internet capabilities, Wi-Fi access, and similar amenities all make camping "very high tech," Sutherland says. KOA is proof of this--more than 300 Kampgrounds now use FootPrints. "With FootPrints, the Internet has now replaced the phone as the primary means of resolving issues, addressing questions, and submitting requests," Sutherland says. The KOA IS department logs in to FootPrints throughout the day to review open tickets. More than 500 tickets were reviewed within the first four months of the FootPrints installation. During the past year, that number expanded to more than 5,000. Since the initial installation KOA has expanded the usage from help-desk applications to contact management, campsite inspections, and vendor management, which had previously been done with pen and paper. FootPrints centralizes all contact information, including phone numbers and business information, for each KOA campground that uses KampSite. Similarly, all information from KOA's campground inspections is placed on the application. This enables KOA executives to track everyone involved with inspection and related activity, updates, and action items. KOA has also given some vendors access to the application to track trouble issues reported by KOA. "Customers love [FootPrints] because we're more proactive in responding to their requests. At the same time, they can be just as proactive in answering their own questions," Sutherland says. The Payoff Using UniPress Software's FootPrints application Kampgrounds of America was able to:
  • increase franchisee usage of the Web system 300 percent;
  • add more projects without incurring additional expenses from the vendor;
  • establish better tracking of franchise owners and vendors; and
  • add customer self-help capabilities, which helped to expand customer usage while lowering the number of employees.
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