• October 1, 2007
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

True-Blue Service Documentation

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The name alone makes quite clear that Merino Computer Concepts (MCC) is in the high-tech arena. A 10-year-old network- and computer-solutions provider, MCC relies on its network engineers (the company now has six) to serve its coverage area, Northern California's Central Valley. Despite technological proficiency, however, MCC was saddled with a manual, multitier strategy for its service-documentation efforts--and was searching for an upgrade. MCC engineers at a client site had to complete paper work orders -- in triplicate. The engineer would then give one copy to the customer and bring two copies to the office manager, who manually keyed the information into MCC's QuickBooks accounting package. Then the office manager filed one copy in the customer's file and the other in a file cabinet. "It was very inefficient and costly," says Joseph Merino, MCC's president. In fact, the company shelled out $3,600 annually printing the three-copy forms, and $1,100 per week in staff time completing the labor-intensive service-documentation process and noting details about client service. Worse, it took "two to three days before an invoice would actually be generated against a work order," Merino says. A partner suggested that MCC evaluate a particular service management system. But, as Merino simply puts it, "we really weren't impressed with it," noting that the product lacked an intuitive user interface. After a Google search on Web-based service management software and MCC's evaluation of a handful of vendors, MCC tapped BlueFolder, which specializes in service team automation. MCC went live with BlueFolder's flagship application, BlueService, in June 2006. Team members turn to BlueService to schedule appointments, view customer histories, track client hours, and log pertinent client-visit data. The Web-based product, integrated with QuickBooks, enables MCC to export all service-ticket data -- including engineers' notes -- into the accounting system, creating more-detailed client invoices while streamlining the billing process and ensuring accuracy. As a result of the more-efficient accounting process -- a reflection, in large part, of the BlueService-QuickBooks integration -- the company saves 10 hours per week in invoicing and pushes invoices out to customers at a quicker pace. Customers can also retrieve their histories via a Web portal. "Before, when we had customers ask us questions about a particular work order or service request, it would take us a day or two to put that information together," Merino says; the staff had to locate the customer's folder by searching through paper files and then send a copy of the requested information. "Now, the customer can access it online; it's always readily available for them." According to Marc Fey, parent firm BlueFolder's chief operating officer, BlueService offers team scheduling functionality, the ability to export invoices to an accounting system like QuickBooks, and a comprehensive view of all upcoming and completed work. The combination of these features, Fey says, "solves major operational issues for our customers." In addition, MCC achieved a full ROI in just weeks, and saved about $60,000 in printing costs and time savings in one year, which helped pay for another engineer. The Payoff Since deploying BlueFolder's BlueService application, Merino Computer Concepts was able to:
  • reduce printing costs and time costs by about $60,000 a year;
  • eliminate 10 hours per week in its invoicing process;
  • achieve a full ROI in weeks; and
  • bolster customer-response times.
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