Ikon Evolves Its Customer Service

As a provider of document solutions, Ikon knew that it should be offering its customers excellent service. Based in Malvern, Pa., Ikon uses products from manufacturers such as Canon, Ricoh, Hewlett-Packard and OcÈ and provides management and legal document services as well as digital copying and printing equipment.

But Ikon's service dispatch processes were manual--customers phoned in service requests, which the dispatch center then paged to the field technician in the appropriate territory. Once the job was completed, the technicians would call back to the dispatch center, and the customer records would be updated in the legacy system, which was designed in the 1980s. Ikon's customers, service technicians and call center staff were all complaining about the inefficiency of this system.

"Our legacy dispatch system didn't meet our customer requirements," explains John Braun, vice president of customer services. "It had been built in a different time and place and didn't allow us to empower our service teams. We needed help in terms of supporting tools to make that happen."

Ikon chose Automated Dispatch Systems (ADS), a privately held software development firm that specializes in designing, implementing and managing niche software specifically for mobile field workers. "The ADS solution is a bolt-on service dispatch solution that is 100 percent integrated with our legacy enterprise," explains Braun. "It pulls real-time information from the legacy system at the front end of a customer call, manages and adds to the entire service call process, and then uploads the transaction into the legacy system." Furthermore, it can also operate independently of the legacy system--when the legacy system goes down, ADS stays up.

With ADS, customers are able to contact Ikon not only via phone and voice mail, but also by fax and e-mail. There is also an Internet option offered to customers from large companies enabling communication with Ikon online on its Web site. Today, having implemented ADS, Ikon handles more than 300,000 customer calls and more than 1 million transactions per month.

Field technicians are making their dispatch decisions in the field and returning customer calls and service requests within one hour from when they were placed. "It works for us to have the dispatch system in the field," Braun explains. "It has simplified everything and has enabled us to really focus on and improve the things customers tell us are important to them. We've more than doubled our productivity in the call centers since its inception." During a three-year period, Ikon piloted and then rolled out ADS and consolidated its call center operations, with 90 percent completion after two years. Braun is confident that had it not been for other business initiatives being rolled out simultaneously, the ADS portion would have been completed in less than two years. Today, 7,000 field technicians and more than 1,000 call center staff and field managers use the new system.

"In the field, we're always striving to make ourselves better than we were 90 days ago. We definitely plan to build on this system in the future," says Braun. "As our business changes, as our customer requirements change, as our legacy enterprise system is replaced, as technology improves, ADS will change and improve as well."

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