AT A GLANCE
- Free up customer service team from order entry tasks
- Simplify temporary seasonal staff roles and training
- Improve service levels
- Esker Sales Order Management ‘SOM’
- FUJIFILM Business Innovation’s Process Automation team
- Removed manual data entry, giving the four-person team more than 8 hours back each day
- Orders processed 90% faster during peak periods
- Self-learning AI has improved accuracy and provided agility
- Provided full visibility into order processing analytics
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Agri-nutrients firm goes all-in on AI-powered order processing…
Providing next-level customer service can be a fine balance between processing orders efficiently and taking time to proactively help customers.
For stockfeed manufacturer SealesWinslow, a subsidiary of Ballance Agri-Nutrients, there is an added challenge of huge seasonal peaks, which see around half of the company’s annual order book filled in just three months. With orders ranging from 20kg bags of feed to 10-tonne truckloads, and specialised ordering for customised stockfeed additives, order processing can get challenging.
A manual order entry process using emailed orders from both merchants and SealesWinslow’s sales reps saw the company’s lean customer service team stretched during peak periods. While temporary Customer Service staff for busy periods helped, the specialised knowledge required meant they could only do so much.
“The time saving has been quite mind-blowing for us.”
Nardia Crosby, Customer Experience & Shared Services Manager at SealesWinslow had a clear vision: “One of our main goals was to get our customer service team away from performing functions and allow them the time to talk to customers, resolve issues and proactively look at what was happening and how it was happening to minimise and remove issues before they happened.”
The Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ IT team suggested the Esker Sales Order Management platform ‘SOM’, locally delivered by FUJIFILM Business Innovation’s Process Automation team. The suggestion came with a thumbs up for Fujifilm’s reputation and the team’s ability to respond and implement quickly.
“We had a high volume of sales orders in a set format but with very manual processes,” says Crosby.
Fujifilm integrated Esker SOM with SealesWinslow’s ERP system across three manufacturing plants around New Zealand, allowing it to automatically capture information from sales order emails. For the Customer Service team, that meant no more retyping PDFs into sales orders. AI-driven machine learning accurately extracts relevant data and learns common corrections.
Within three weeks of implementing Esker, SealesWinslow’s four-person customer service team was saving more than eight hours a day across the team. Order processing times are now around one fifth of what they were, and urgent orders can be dealt with instantly.
Crosby says the results were impressive. “The time saving has been quite mind-blowing for us. In a funny way, it was a bit unnerving for the team. Suddenly in our busy period, they had flexibility they’d never had before.”
That time saving has seen SealesWinslow step up its outbound calling, getting feedback from customers, and proactively working to minimise and remove any issues before they happen. It’s also enabling training for the team, even during peak periods.
“One of our main goals was to get our customer service team away from performing functions and allow them the time to talk to customers, resolve issues and proactively look at what was happening and how it was happening to minimise and remove issues before they happened,” says Crosby.
Order duplications are flagged by Esker and the way the two systems interact ensures incorrect information can’t be accidentally input. Fujifilm configured the platform to include SealesWinslow’s freight mechanism, ensuring the automation in its ERP for contacting correct carriers for each region wasn’t lost.
Esker’s autolearning abilities have been the key feature for SealesWinslow. The codes that merchant partners use often vary slightly from SealesWinslow’s own codes, and Esker’s AI has quickly picked up the differences.
“I know auto-learning works beautifully because we did a re-coding change in our ERP system, and Esker picked up really fast on those new codes.”
Esker has also helped fill in gaps in the ERP system’s reporting, enabling SealesWinslow to see for the first time how long it takes the team to process an order and how many times they have to verify information with a merchant or their own reps. That’s allowing the company to focus on those areas and provide training where needed to reduce future issues.
SealesWinslow is adding a new permanent member to its customer service team, and Crosby says their training will be considerably easier thanks to Esker.
You have to know a lot before you can be let loose on our main ERP system, which meant training people in the past took longer. With Esker, it’s much simpler. It has made a huge difference in the way we can work and the way we do that work now.
Source: This article was originally sourced from FUJIFILM Business Innovation