Service Upgrade

Field technicians get better at helping customers, thanks to wireless connections to CRM systems

Darrell Dunn, Contributor

August 15, 2003

2 Min Read

Field-service technicians at mailing and document–management company Pitney Bowes Inc. have for the past 20 years struggled with a proprietary service–management application that was often vague in its diagnostics, wasn't well–coordinated with back–end inventory parts and logistics systems, and delivered reports that were difficult for customers to understand. Not exactly the stuff that adds up to great customer satisfaction.

That's changing, though. Over the next year, the company will migrate 500 employees to a wireless field–service system from Antenna Software Inc. that links to the field–service component of its customer–relationship–management software to simplify access to information about repairs and service–level agreements and improve parts order–management and tracking.

The A3 software also lets field–service agents identify specific components and modules that have malfunctioned, providing detailed information for analysis in native languages, says Ralph Nichols, service program manager for Pitney Bowes' document–messaging division. In lieu of the old system's reports, which spit out proprietary code that had to be deciphered for customers to understand the problem with their Pitney Bowes equipment, the A3 software provides a pull–down menu where more than 90% of all reporting information has been automated. "We can now provide some very good, detailed information that for the first time is going to give [agents] a leg up in trying to resolve performance issues," Nichols says.

Pitney Bowes has so far invested about $5 million in the new system, and Nichols says he believes the company will see a complete return within the next year. Pitney Bowes began deploying A3 in April 2002, and 300 employees are now using the technology. Already, the software has led to 90% fewer emergency orders, Nichols says. As service agents report into the system, routine inventory–resupply orders are placed, he says.

"We believe this is the best thing we've done for the service people in this company in years," he says. "They have a tool now that can get them very good information."

Pitney Bowes is using the software in conjunction with its Siebel Systems Inc. system, but Antenna also offers a version for use with Amdocs Ltd.'s ClarifyCRM field–service tools, as well as one that works with custom–built and legacy CRM systems.

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