Fujitsu Software (FS), a software development company and subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited (Japan), comprises mainly software developers and a technical support staff, which service FS’s thousands of customers. Prior to changing its business strategy, FS’s technical support staff primarily addressed customers’ questions and technical problems over the phone. “Our support engineers were spending hours on the telephone helping customers with software issues, only to have to repeat the same conversation with other customers several more times during the course of the week,” says Jim Battaglieri, director of services and support. “When you consider that we have thousands of customers and 50 support engineers, it’s easy to see how handling redundant calls was unnecessarily taxing our staff and keeping them from working on higher revenue-producing projects such as pre-sales and consulting.” As business increased, it became even more apparent that there must be a more efficient way to handle customer concerns.
Not only did TechExcel product make more sense than any of the other products I had seen, but it cost less than half of what the other vendors were charging for their products.
Jim Battaglieri – director of services and support
Help Me To Help You…To Help Me
Even though Fujitsu Software had an idea of what kind of solution it needed, finding the right provider wasn’t easy. “I started by contacting many of the CRM (customer relationship management) industry leaders to get a better feel for which one would be
the best ﬁt for us,” recalls Battaglieri. “Many of the top CRM vendors were engaged in mergers and acquisitions when we began looking for a solution and, as a result, they were all struggling to integrate their newly acquired software into a usable CRM product. Most of the time technical support was an afterthought to their solutions, compared to sales, marketing, and e-mail communication.
Battaglieri also found that CRM pricing policies fluctuated significantly during this period. “I received a bid from a top-five CRM vendor that was 360% higher than the ‘updated’ bid I was given two weeks later.” According to Battaglieri, most of the vendors didn’t listen to what he was saying, and they insisted he needed a much more robust solution than he was
seeking. Most of these same vendors offered a one- size-fits-all solution as opposed to a modular solution that could start small and build as the business’s needs grew.
Show Me The Money!
Battaglieri‘s research eventually led him to a company called TechExcel (Lafayette, CA). “TechExcel had what we were looking for: a scalable, support center solution that gave us the option to add more CRM functionality down the road,” says Battaglieri. “Not only did their product make more sense than any of the other products l had seen, but it cost less than half of what the other vendors were charging for their products.”
Fujitsu Software installed TechExcel‘s ServiceWise product, a module from the vendor’s FrontOffice CRM solution. ServiceWise enabled FS to give its customers access to its knowledge database via a pass code and an Internet browser. “One of the major selling points for this support center solution was that it was easily customizable and didn’t require any programming to make it interface with our Oracle database and Outlook e-mail system,” says Battaglieri. “The software incorporates a series of logic controls that are activated or deactivated by a designated administrator with the click of a mouse.”
FS uses these logic controls to determine which parts of the database each customer has access to, who at FS will be responsible for handling specific customer inquiries, and how long an incident will remain open before a manager or backup person is notified.
“The solution has helped us twofold,” says Battaglieri. “First, it has significantly reduced our technical representatives’ time spent on the telephone and second, it has enabled our customers to be able to get immediate answers 24/7 via our support site.” FS‘s customers create their own login name and password, which they use to access the online database. If they cannot find the answer to their technical problem on the database, they can send an instant message to their designated support engineer at FS who will begin working on the problem upon receipt of the message. If the designated FS rep. is out of the office, the message is automatically rerouted to the most appropriate engineer on duty at that time.
Additionally, the online support solution features an e-mail reply function which confirms receipt of the question/incident to the customer sending the message. As an added optional feature, FS customers can purchase after-hours support. Using the aforementioned scenario, when a customer sends an immediate message to FS, ServiceWise forwards the message to an on-call support engineer via a wireless pager.
E-mail functions such as automatic message reply and automatic message rerouting have helped FS to cut down on manual e-mails by more than 60%. By being able to move several techs out of support and into other jobs, FS cut its pure support costs by at least $500,000.
One Good CRM Module Leads To Another…And Another
Because of FS‘s success with ServiceWise, the company is now in the testing phase and close to the rollout for TechExcel’s MarketingWise and SalesWise. “By adding these two modules we will offer our marketing, sales, and support teams access to the same database with customized front ends,“ says Battaglieri. “Data entered by the marketing team will b available to the support team if the prospect ever becomes a customer. And the sales manager will now know when one of their customers submits an incident report, if desired.”
Benefits Of A Web-Centric Support Center ServiceWise allows FS employees to:
Define and manage the customer support process, from incident tracking to workflow
and process automation — customized toward Fujitsu Software’s business requirements.
Compile and search a product support knowledge base, including indexed documents, files and Web links, with predefinable access for customers.
Automatically assign new incidents to the most appropriate person based on their skills and workload, then trigger automatic notiﬁcation and re-assignment when incidents are overdue. Automatically notify appropriate FS employee(s) by e-mail (could also be conﬁgured to use pager or cell phone) when selected events occur, based on definablecriteria. Analyze problem trends and track support team performance metrics.
Provide customers with a Web interface to submit and manage incidents, to search the
knowledge base, and to have interactive Web conversations with the support team
during normal working hours.
FS uses ServiceWise to manage the support team’s workload and track performance metrics, to monitor high-priority incidents, and to identify critical problem trends. FS‘s development teams use ServiceWise to monitor new product releases for incident trends, and to identify problem areas and specific defects to focus on for future releases. By implementing the call center solution, FS has been able to streamline its customer service efforts and dramatically cut down on employee time spent on the phones.