Faster Invoicing and Well-Informed Technicians Improve Customer Service
Servicing the water, oil, and sewage pumps sold by SPP Pumps is a key part of the Reading, UK, company’s business model. SPP Pumps technicians provide global customer care, and rely on regional supply and repair centers to help meet demand. Responding to customer service requests requires speed and ability, but inefficient, paper-based processes for scheduling and invoicing hindered SPP Pumps.
“We had handwritten manual systems,” explains Damian Hudson, head of IT for SPP Pumps. “When they visited customers, our field engineers filled out paper forms that they then faxed back to the office. The information on those cards was entered by hand into our ERP system.”
Since 30 engineers deal with as many as 60 service appointments a day,
the sluggish process would delay invoice generation by up to 14 days. The process of writing out customer details and
re-entering them manually also resulted in errors, Hudson says. It wasn’t uncommon, for example, for invoices to be sent out with the incorrect postal code. The paper system also effectively cut off engineers from the company’s sales and supply teams. “It was difficult to get information out to the field engineers in a timely manner before their visits — for example, they might get to the customer site without the right parts,” Hudson says. Engineers also couldn’t tap into their colleagues’ institutional knowledge by, for instance, viewing previous service reports that might offer clues to resolve a customer issue. And field engineers had no way to easily tip off sales teams to product or service sales opportunities, so that valuable knowledge was often lost.
SPP Pumps’ need to improve cash flow and reduce the 14-day invoicing delay drove the company’s shift away from paper-based service processes. SPP Pumps was using an ERP system from SAP, so Hudson and his colleagues could see the value of integrating with that solution so that information could be shared seamlessly between service and operations. Trident’s cloud-based field service management solution met the requirements for speed, visibility, and easy integration. “The good news was that with Trident, we didn’t need a lot of development time,” Hudson says. “We got the integration working within a week.” With Trident connected to the SAP ERP system, scheduling appointments and managing work orders is a process that can be seen by anyone with Trident access, via easy-to-use apps on field technicians’ iPads. In addition, field engineers can see inventory of more than 120,000 parts and can order the correct items. Sales and service orders can be matched to engineers’ work orders for a complete record of customers’ product and service purchases.
“Our engineers now have better information at hand when they start a repair or service,” Hudson says. “They can see who else has been there, and find out which engineer to talk to if there are questions about previous appointments.” No longer are there cases where an engineer shows up at a customer site without the necessary parts or know-how to fix the problem. SPP Pumps now delivers invoices to customers in just one day — a significant improvement over the previous 14-day cycle, which has led to healthier cash flow for the business. “It’s also much better for customer communication,” Hudson says. “Now that field service and the back office have more knowledge of the customer, our employees can answer customer questions right away.” The process of creating work orders and generating invoices is now 100 percent digital, so every piece of information about a customer engagement is captured in Trident. “With a more modern system, we can be more responsive to customers,” says Hudson. “And that means we can drive more opportunities for the rest of the business in terms of selling service contracts and more products.”