Wetrok AG: Mobile Service Solution for Technical Customer Service
Wetrok AG is one of the leading suppliers of professional cleaning systems. The company was founded in Switzerland in 1948 as one of the first cleaning technol-ogy specialists and, with over 300 employees in 35 countries today, currently achieves a turnover of approx. CHF 100 million (EUR 78 million). In addition to its specialized cleaning machines, the company also boasts first-class customer service.
This case study describes the implementation of a mobile service solution for tech-nical customer service at Wetrok. It aims to introduce the solution and the impact this has on the service technicians and also to present the IT integration based on components from the SAP product family.
Table of Contents1. The Company
2. What Triggered the Project
3. Mobile Service Solution for Technical Customer Service
Business Perspective , Benefits , Process Perspective , Order Management , Materials Management , Customer Visit , Billing , Controlling, Application Perspective , Mobile Computing, Data Exchange
5. Experience from Operation
6. Success Factors
1. The Company
By way of introduction, this section presents the company, and in particular the environment in which the implemented e-business solution is being operated.
For over 50 years, the name Wetrok has been synonymous with cleanliness, hygiene, and Swiss quality. The company MĂĽller-BrĂĽtsch & Co sold cleaning equipment for private and professional use under the brand name Wetrok (originally Servo). In 1955, this company was taken over by what is now Diethelm Keller Holding, which is headquartered in Zurich.
Wetrok AG was founded in 2000 and is an independent, wholly-owned subsidiary of the Diethelm Keller Group. Wetrok belongs to the Diethelm Keller Management & Investment (DKMI) division, which includes other brands such as Koenig, TURMIX, and Zyliss. Based in Kloten, Switzerland, Wetrok is now a global player with subsidiaries in Germany and the United Kingdom. It generates the highest sales figures within the DKMI and currently has approximately 270 employees in Switzerland.
Industry, Product, and Target Group
Wetrok is one of the few international system suppliers around today that develops, produces, and sells a complete offering for professional cleaning. Compared with the competition, Wetrok is the Mercedes of cleaning machines and is the market leader in scrubber-driers.
In addition to an extensive range of specialized machines, Wetrok also offers specially designed cleaning agents and training for cleaning staff. As a holistic provider of cleaning solutions, the service department, which currently employees about 30 staff, also plays a significant role. Wetrok customers enjoy hotline support (24x7), which is staffed by a team of 22 service technicians who carry out maintenance and repairs throughout Switzerland.
Wetrok generates most of its revenue selling to the three leading Swiss cleaning companies, which are primarily responsible for cleaning branches of leading large retail chains. Other Wetrok customers include numerous small and medium-sized enterprises, the automotive industry, international airports, and operators of public buildings. The customer base also includes hospitals and hotels â€“ whose special cleaning regulations demand high-quality cleaning concepts.
At Wetrok, the corporate vision is to become the leading system supplier in selected markets and customer segments. The company plans to reach this goal with high-quality products and services, superior customer service, and cost-optimized methods. And the company's employees are seen as a key to this success.
2. What Triggered the Project
E-business as an integral part of technical customer service is one answer to counter the complexities of mass information and the associated efficiency issues. The following customer example helps illustrate this. Vebego Services AG is a leading Swiss cleaning company. Its customers include the large retail company COOP, which commissions Vebego's cleaning services for numerous branches. Wetrok provides Vebego with cleaning machines and the relevant agreed services. The following addresses must be managed for this arrangement: the contact address for the service technician (Vebego employee for COOP branch X), the location address for the machine (COOP branch X), and the billing address (Vebego Services AG). Fast service planning with appointment scheduling, directions, and cost settlement functions demands a central data storage facility that service technicians can access from anywhere at any time.
Importance of E-Business in the Corporate Strategy
Wetrok's main challenge is to guarantee 24x7 customer support throughout Switzerland. This includes ensuring that service technicians and any materials required are available within 24 hours. Success factors include speed, reliability, and know-how.
The strategic answer of the company's service manager for Switzerland since 2001 is to use telemetrics in technical customer service. This combines the following three elements:
â€˘ Centrally positioning of the vehicle location by satellite (GPS) and registering when work is commenced and concluded.
â€˘ Navigating service technicians to their target address based on information programmed into their navigation system (GPS) and audio and visual instructions.
â€˘ Mobile computing (offline/online/GPRS) for service technicians so they always have access to relevant information such as customer and machine data, as well as a communication channel to headquarters.
The goal was to implement an economic solution that would help optimize success factors and reduce administrative effort. This case study focuses on the aspect of mobile computing and its implementation.
ERP System Switch
For more than 15 years, Wetrok worked with a J.D. Edwards ERP solution. However, only a few modules were used and a release upgrade was never performed. The telematics strategy selected required the existing ERP system to be replaced. An assessment of J.D Edwards products showed that they did not include a solution to support service technicians based on mobile computing. At that time, there was also speculation that J.D. Edwards would be taken over by PeopleSoft, which naturally resulted in a feeling of insecurity.
After further evaluations, SAP emerged as the winner. The solution concept presented, which was based on a combination of mySAP CRM and SAP R/3, impressed Wetrok. SAP was able to accurately outline the integration options. A demonstration carried out at a reference customer's site in Vienna confirmed the suitability of the solution. Group management also supported this choice â€“ particularly in light of the fact that SAP was already in wide use in the Diethelm Keller Group.
Two partners contributed significantly in helping to plan and implement the solution:
SAP AG is the third largest independent software supplier worldwide and has been developing business solutions for customers around the globe for over three decades. The mySAP product line came into existence in 1999 and uses Web technology to connect e-commerce solutions and existing ERP applications. The mySAP Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution presented belongs to the mySAP Business Suite family and provides companies with marketing, sales, and service processes using all communication channels. The IT partner of Wetrok is SAP (Schweiz) AG in Regensdorf, Switzerland.
The software and consulting company IDS Scheer AG develops business solutions for business process management. The company has a strategic cooperation agreement with SAP. IDS Scheer was responsible for implementing the SAP R/3 ERP system at Wetrok, which is the system to which mySAP CRM is connected.
3. Mobile Service Solution for Technical Customer Service
This case study focuses on the service technicians at Wetrok who have been equipped with the mobile service solution since April 2005. In the following sections, the tasks of service technicians are described from three perspectives. The extent to which the new solution supports these tasks and improves the results is highlighted.
To ensure smooth operation of their cleaning systems, Wetrok offers its customers three services. These are outlined in a process overview in Fig. 1
Fig. 1: Process Overview of Wetrok Services
When spare parts are required, these can be ordered by calling a toll-free number. First-level support is available to handle queries relating to Wetrok products. Customers can contact first-level support by means of a premium-rate hotline (CHF 1.50 per minute) and immediate assistance is provided in three languages. If Wetrok customers need repairs to be carried out on a machine, they can request second-level support by calling the relevant service number. A Wetrok service technician then examines the problem on site within an agreed time period.
Wetrok service administration employees six staff. The call center takes incoming repair orders and records them in the system. The head of operations then carries out preliminary planning for the service technicians, checks the availability of the material required to carry out the repair, and releases the order in the system.
If a material needs to be ordered, an order is placed with Wetrok's spare parts management (materials management). It is from here that orders are commissioned. Wetrok uses the overnight express service of Swiss Post Net AG to deliver the materials to the service technicians. For CHF 19 per delivery (status in mid-2005), Swiss Post places the materials directly into the service vehicles overnight using keys provided to them for this purpose.
The procedure adopted by service technicians is generally as follows: They organize the orders received by Internet from home each evening and put together an optimal route for the service jobs for the following day. They arrange an appointment for the repair work by phone with the customer and clarify questions on potential causes related to this work. Any material that is not stocked in service vehicles is delivered directly to the service technician's home by Swiss Post Net. The following evening, service technicians report back to Wetrok. The data they submit is sent to service administration and they are also notified of the new jobs assigned to them.
The actual processes that are supported by the mobile solution are outlined in detail in "Process Perspective". The benefits over the previous procedure are as follows:
â€˘ Customer visits are scheduled by service technicians who now have access to all customer data at all times.
â€˘ The mobile CRM system provides technicians with a knowledge base to help them complete their assignment and provide customer advisory services. Service technicians constantly record the experience they gain, allowing them all to benefit from the knowledge base they develop.
â€˘ Thanks to the new electronic reporting functions, Wetrok's billing process is now faster, more accurate, and easier than ever before.
â€˘ A new analysis tool is now also available to Wetrok service management. This enables them to calculate the overall yield for various service contracts.
mySAP CRM supports service administration and technical customer service in carrying out processes for order management, materials management, customer visits, billing, and controlling/monitoring.
Order management: All employees work with a new central customer data management function. One record is maintained by all employees involved â€“ from the call center employee who receives the order and the head of operations responsible for preliminary planning, to the service technician who carries out detailed planning and submits reports and records the data collected.
Materials management: Thanks to its integration with the ERP system, the CRM solution can automatically monitor stock levels in the technicians' vehicles and order new stock automatically as soon as these levels drop below a defined minimum quantity. About 70% of the mobile stock is ordered by this automated function. The remaining 30% is ordered manually â€“ this is done only for items that are no longer part of standard stock. Furthermore, a recorded material requirement automatically generates a purchase order in materials management for the address of the assigned service technician.
Customer visit: At the heart of the solution are functions to support service technicians during customer visits. The ability to access particular data is advantageous in many situations:
â€˘ The service technician is deployed to a repair assignment and also checks whether inspection work is scheduled for the immediate future.
â€˘ The service technician reviews the service history for the machine to obtain a clearer overview of the possible causes of the problem.
â€˘ The service technician checks whether a warranty contract exists for the repair work required.
â€˘ The customer requests information about the machine or service contract from the service technician.
â€˘ The customer places an order for spare parts or accessories with the service technician, who forwards this to service administration.
Whenever repair, maintenance, or inspection work is carried out, the service technician compiles a work report at the customer site and prints out a copy for the customer. When the assignment is completed, the service technician assigns a completed status to the order in the system. Otherwise, a new customer visit must be scheduled. This process is summarized in Fig. 2
The IBase (installed base) information object contains all the information for a machine installed for a customer. The data recorded includes information about the machine owner and location, configuration, deployment, the number of hours of operation, and the contact person.
Another information object is the service contract, in which the warranty period and type of warranty as well as the agreed maintenance services and rates are specified. Further information objects are the service order, which supports service management, and the sales activities, which simplify communication between service technicians and customer care personnel or sales agents.
Fig. 2: Detailed Process for a Service Technicianâ€™s Customer Visit
Billing: Functions allowing services rendered to be recorded electronically enable completed orders to be billed immediately.
Controlling/monitoring: Employee productivity, the profitability of service contracts and customers, and other business KPIs are recorded in the central data storage facility and available to management at all times for controlling and monitoring purposes.
The mySAP CRM solution at Wetrok is based on the CRM Service and CRM Sales modules, which each exist as mobile and online components. CRM Mobile Service is designed for service technicians and CRM Mobile Sales for customer care personnel and sales agents. A specially configured data exchange administration component allows data to be updated regularly, thereby providing an extensive knowledge base for both parties. The online component is used at the Wetrok headquarters to access the entire data pool online.
Fig. 3 provides an overview of how mySAP CRM is integrated into Wetrokâ€™s system landscape. The version installed is Version 4.0, which runs on IBM AS/400 at Wetrok and on the IBM T42 notebooks used by the technical customer service personnel. The service technicians and service administration personnel who work with the solution constitute the primary focus. Diethelm Keller Management & Investment Services (DKMIS) is responsible for central data storage and system maintenance.
Fig. 3: Application Perspective and Integration Scheme for mySAP CRM at Wetrok
Service administration can access all applications using the relevant clients. An RFC connection is set up from mySAP CRM to SAP R/3 for the ERP modules for Financials, Controlling, Materials Management, and Sales & Distribution (1). This allows orders to be posted directly in financial accounting or stocks to be managed in the ERP system, for example.
A special feature of the solution is the data exchange between CRM Mobile and CRM Online (2). Data is replicated (usually once a day) to ensure that service technicians working in offline mode can access up-to-date data. A replication solution exists for this purpose (at SAP, this is CRM Middleware). From home, service technicians establish a temporary online connection (virtual private network) to the data exchange administration component on the CRM server at DKMIS. The data is then exchanged using the replication component (at SAP, this is ConnTrans). A program is available to convert the received and sent objects into the correct data format. The data exchange administration component is used to manage the mobile clients. The primary task is to distribute data from the server to certain mobile devices and in the opposite direction in accordance with defined rules. To minimize data transfer times, only those data fields that have changed since the last synchronization are transmitted. The spare parts catalog (3) has not yet been integrated in the solution. However, technicians can access the catalog on CD-ROM at the customer site.
The purpose of the Global Positioning System (GPS) at Wetrok (4) is to locate service vehicles. At regular intervals, each vehicle emits a signal that is sent via satellite and a central office for GPS in Holland to the server at Wetrok (by SMS). Not only does this allow vehicles to be positioned centrally â€“ travel time and speed can also be calculated. There are no plans for this to be integrated into the SAP system. Although GPS applications are of significant importance for service management at Wetrok, they are not examined any further in this case study.
The mySAP CRM implementation was a subproject of the system change planned as part of the telematics strategy. Wetrok first discussed its requirements with SAP in November 2003. In January 2004, the contact was signed, and on April 1 of the same year, the SAP project was kicked off at Wetrok Switzerland. SAP Switzerland, Wetrok employees, the IT department of DKMIS, and IDS Scheer were all involved.
Project Management and Process Redesign
For DKMI, this is very much a pilot project. The long-term goal is to ensure that service at the Wetrok subsidiaries in Germany and the United Kingdom is at the same level and to implement SAP for other Group subsidiaries.
Wetrok took central charge of the project and appointed a team leader and another project team member. They had a very definite idea of what they wanted for the mobile computing aspect of the strategy. Rough and detailed concepts for a service solution were complied as part of a study back in 2002/2003, based on which an Access solution was developed. However, with the decision to completely replace the system, this isolated solution for which CHF 100,000 were invested, was rendered redundant. The concepts and knowledge gathered, on the other hand, were used as the starting point for the SAP project.
SAP assumed responsibility for the technical implementation. The first step involved devising an implementation plan that would include the target process, the organizational structure, and the resulting measures for change. One goal was to use the existing know-how at Wetrok and promote acceptance to change by supporting employee participation. SAP also allowed trained Wetrok employees to hold courses for other employees to enable them to operate the solution quickly and independently. SAP assumed a supervising role during this training and helped prepare training material and define focal points. The online component was up and running in February 2005, followed by CRM Mobile two months later.
Parallel to the development and implementation of mySAP CRM, the new ERP system was introduced. Since Wetrok was eager to complete the implementation quickly, tasks were shared. IDS Scheer took responsibility for SAP R/3 and SAP for the CRM solution.
The party responsible for operating and maintaining the software and hardware at Wetrok is DKMIS. The complex process of implementing mySAP CRM and SAP R/3 resulted in resource bottlenecks in this department. For this reason, distribution of the mobile devices was delayed by two months. All service technicians were to equipped with notebooks by September 2005.
The solution implemented at Wetrok is Version 4.0 of the CRM module originally released in 1999. This was developed by SAP AG. It was the first time that the application was used in the field of mobile services in Switzerland. The solution combines the Mobile Sales and Mobile Service solutions, and also features an additional replication component (CRM Middleware). This combination supports both service and sales activities at the same time. The solution is currently undergoing further development and a Version 5.0 release is to be available at the end of October, 2005.
5. Experience from Operation
Use and Maintenance
The implementation of the new solution is seen as positive. Although there was some initial uncertainty, the Wetrok employees are now proud to work for one of the most modern service facilities in Switzerland. This uncertainty stemmed partly from the imposed use of notebooks. Some service technicians had no previous experience with computers and had to attend a basic PC course. Today, they use the application in the same way â€“ or in some cases, more skillfully â€“ than employees with many years of PC experience. Further uncertainly stems from the fact that the solution generally demands more administrative effort from service technicians, therefore requiring them to assume more responsibility.
Data is replicated in two steps. The first step is to perform a data exchange. This is now done quickly and accurately. The second step is to allocate the data to the relevant modules. This is a time-consuming process because capacity distribution on the host between mySAP CRM and SAP R/3 has not yet been optimized. DKMIS is working on a solution to this.
The function for reordering materials automatically was discontinued after a trial run. The reason for this is the lack of experience in defining minimum stock levels, so orders are triggered manually for the time being. It is planned to activate the automatic function definitively at the end of September 2005 after an inventory is taken in all service vehicles. However, the solution still provides information on current stock levels in service vehicles and thereby supports material supply and materials management.
The billing process has already been optimized significantly. The time that lapsed between completion of services and invoicing used to be up to three weeks. This now takes just three days and, since data now only needs to be recorded once, the number of errors encountered has also dropped.
Little experience has been gathered to date for CRM analytics. Controlling and monitoring cannot be performed successfully until the dataset grows. The results of these are eagerly awaited since there is currently no transparency regarding the profitability of individual service contracts.
No experience could be gathered with the print and statistics functions in the Mobile Service component because the relevant forms are not yet in place.
Achievement of Goals
The ambitious goals for mobile computing have been largely achieved. The solution boosts the speed, reliability, and expertise of the customer service team and significantly reduces administrative tasks.
Replicating data in the morning and evening only is the initial process for the first phase. The ultimate aim is to have an interface with GPRS solutions in the service vehicles so that data can be exchanged at any time (see for example, the Sixmadun case study). The additional costs to implement this are estimated to be around CHF 150,000. The required response times for service orders influences the need for this solution. At present, 30% of service orders must be completed within 24 hours. As soon as this value hits 50% (which is expected in 2006), exchanging data once a day will no longer suffice.
The user friendliness of the mobile service solution is not yet entirely satisfactory. From the reference customer demonstration, Wetrok was aware that data exchange was supported, but did not know anything about the underlying functions. The current solution allows data to be exchanged smoothly, but CRM Mobile applications are handled very differently to CRM Online.
The measures introduced by the telematics strategy will win Wetrok a net cost saving of up to CHF 1 million over a four-year period. This figure is based on one-off costs for software and hardware, installation, training, and communication amounting to around CHF 350,000. Additional annual operating costs of about CHF 30,000 are also factored in. The overall project benefit is estimated to exceed CHF 1.6 million: the reduction of 3.5 positions among administration and service personnel, the reduction of CHF 8,000 in annual cell phone costs, and the increased productivity due to reduced travel times equating to CHF 90,000 each year.
The non-quantifiable benefits include: reduced operating costs for service vehicles through more efficient dispatching, faster invoicing through daily data transfers, greater productivity with the same number of staff, and increased customer satisfaction thanks to faster service.
6. Success Factors
Special Features of the Solution
mySAP CRM is beneficial to Wetrok because the solution provides customer-oriented support to its service technicians. Service technicians can prepare themselves more effectively for assignments and appear as more competent to customers since they can access all the information they require: customer information, machine data, history, pricing information, spare parts data, and diagnostics support.
The data exchange administration component is of particular importance. The data replicated for service technicians is the data that they specifically require for their assignments. This allows accurate resource planning, optimized route calculation, and therefore increased productivity.
mySAP CRM is also to serve as the foundation for analysis and better decision-making. It also helps make tacit knowledge available to all employees.
SAP has earmarked the topic of service management (technical customer service) as a trend for the coming years. The reasons are an increase in repair work and customer complaints and the complexity of the relevant service processes. In the future, efficient provision of services will be an increasingly important aspect in gaining a competitive advantage.
The Wetrok example points toward an inevitable cultural change for this occupational group, in which skilled trade activities are mainly carried out. The focus is not on the fear of working with PCs, but on the aversion to administrative tasks. Until now, decisions on billing of services rendered were made by service administration. But with the current solution, service technicians are required to assume more responsibility and enter their services accurately into the system at the customer site.
The division of tasks for the CRM and ERP implementation did not prove successful. Wetrok has learned that it is better to assign just one project manager in complex projects like this. This facilitates better communication between the customer and IT partner and prevents uncertainties in relation to responsibilities.
mySAP CRM has enabled Wetrok to take a significant step forward in implementing its telematics strategy. The solution has optimized the service processes and has heightened Wetrok's awareness for further potential. Possible future projects include integration of material ordering from the spare parts catalog or even a mobile online solution. Looking back at its previous isolated solution, Wetrok speaks of a quantum leap. The service manager also adds that, without the support and drive of group management, this type of professional solution would never have been considered for a 30-strong service department.