J.B. Hunt's Agents Haul Its CRM Load

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J.B. Hunt's Agents Haul Its CRM Load

For transportation logistics company J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., communication is as important as a full rig and a strong cuppa joe.

The trucking industry is so competitive that J.B. Hunt has just 4 percent of the market and is considered a market leader. The $2.25 billion Lowell, AR--based company, which has more than 11,000 trucks and 45,000 trailers, says that improving the flow of communications is a good way to improve business.

To do that the old-line company set out in 1999 to improve communications in three areas of its business: between its drivers and dispatchers, between on-the-road drivers and their families, and between the company itself and its customers.

The process has taken nearly three years to fully roll out, and there is more to come. But as of December 2001--one full year after implementation--J.B. Hunt had already saved $1 million.

The company has seen significant return on investment for both of its major contact centers. The operations group saved $988,000 in 2001, while the marketing group saved $975,000 in 2001 by implementing CRM technologies, including a call center solution from Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc.

The marketing group has 160 account representatives across 15 contact centers that handle national and regional accounts, including major retailers. The operations group has 200 fleet managers devoted to scheduling, deployment, and safety issues related to 12,000 drivers.

"It's been the classic center evolution," says Jerry Tou, contact center engineering manager. "This was started because calls were not getting where they were supposed to be."

Prior to implementing call center applications from Genesys there was no system, just a call center, an 800 number, and 160 people each with three phone lines at their desks. Tou says it was not unusual for each agent to have three calls on hold.

He also says that most of J.B. Hunt's business was with repeat customers and for customers to have to give their contact information every time they called and with every agent they spoke with was extremely inefficient.

In addition, customers often had a one-to-one relationship with a marketing agent. Tou says that meant if a customer's agent was on vacation, left the company, or was promoted, the customer knowledge left with him. For customers that meant starting all over to forge a relationship with a new sales rep.

Under the new system the average speed of answering a business-to-business phone call has gone from 41 seconds to 4 seconds. Before the new system, callers would often get tired of being on hold and hang up after 1 minute 18 seconds. The improved response time has made customers more impatient and most will wait no longer than 34 seconds before hanging up, according to Tou. Even so, overall abandonment rates have dropped from 17 percent of calls to 2.1 percent, while the time it takes for J.B. Hunt to handle a call, including talk time and wrap up, has been reduced to 1 minute 48 seconds, down from 2 minutes 7 seconds.

J.B. Hunt was also looking to increase profitability by streamlining the process of filling truckloads. Prior to using the call center application, when capacity was available full agents were given a paper list of customers to call to try and solicit business. Now the company is using an in-house front-end application that shows a preview of customer information that is popped to the agent before the number is dialed. And the list of customers is based on those that are most likely to have business to fill the load.

In addition, the call center system allows for spouses to call in and, using a password, leave a message for their husbands or wives. The phone-based application triggers an automatic paging process that sends a text message to the on-board computer of the specific driver's truck. The driver can only retrieve the messages from the computer in the truck when the vehicle is idle or turned off.

In February the company entered the next phase of its CRM initiative, which attempts to use call center technology as a recruiting tool for drivers, who have a 130 percent industry average for job turnover.
"Keeping the driver's seat full is a priority," Tou says. "After all, you cannot move goods from one location to another without drivers. It used to be that recruiters would only hang out at truck stops to hire drivers. We are trying something a little different."

J.B. Hunt has set up an 80-seat call center that does nothing but attempt to recruit drivers from purchased lists and leads.

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