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|Good telephone service is always worth copying|
Konica Minolta Business Solutions is one of Denmark's largest suppliers of copiers and printers. The company is sales and service provider for the various product lines. And while these office machines are, of course, primarily sold on the strength of their quality, there is a strong focus on the importance of good customer service as a sales parameter. This is where good telephone service is an important ingredient.
When the only "product" that you yourself add to the sales process is service, then it is fairly easy to identify your possibilities for "product improvement". There is simply no way around constantly making sure that the service and attention you give your customers live up to - or exceed - their expectations.
One of the areas in which Konica Minolta had a possibility for "product improvement" was telephone service. A couple of years ago the company had approx. 200 employees, and roughly 100 had direct contact to customers, suppliers or partners. When it came to telephone service - or the lack of it - Konica Minolta was not much different from other companies of the same size. Even with everybody doing their best, there were still many incoming calls that went unanswered because the relevant employee was not at his/her desk when the phone rang.
In one respect, however, Konica Minolta was different: the decision was made to actively do something to improve the telephone service.
"We are a sales and service company. For that reason good and prompt service is high on the list of priorities for our management", says Mette Berg, Deputy IT Manager at Konica Minolta, who also stresses the importance of the ensuing focus and support given by the management once a solution was chosen.
The tool that Konica Minolta chose for improving their telephone service was Merlinia OutBack, which was installed on the PCs of all employees in sales, service and administration. And in a short while the effect of it started showing - people simply got better at informing others of their absence from their desks.
And how can that be? A modern organization that has used electronic calendars for a long time is surely used to arranging meetings and other appointments electronically...?
"I saw things in that light myself at the start", admits Mette Berg. "But after using OutBack for a little while, I realized what the difference between OutBack and a calendar system is. A calendar system is used for planning. OutBack shows reality. Of course, people are good at using the calendar system when they have made an appointment for a meeting Thursday next week. But nobody makes an appointment in their calendar when they go to the printer room, or to get coffee, or for a quick visit to the office next door. They do use OutBack for that, however - and it works!"
Four offices in all
Today Konica Minolta has approx. 300 employees and the more than 150 of them that work in jobs with external contacts use OutBack on a daily basis. They are placed in three local offices and the main office in Albertslund. All incoming calls are handled in Albertslund, and here the telephone receptionist uses OutBack to instantly find out whether a consultant in Vejle or an administrative employee in Aalborg is at his/her desk or not.
"We have got a really good tool for everyday business", says Mette Berg. "And during vacation periods it is quite simply fantastic. Think about how difficult it would be for the receptionist to keep track of the vacation periods of more than 160 employees during 2-3 months over the summer. Some people make last minute plans, others change their plans repeatedly or swap their weeks with colleagues. If you do not have an updated overview of the situation available all the time, then all this information will simply swamp you".
There are two elements of OutBack that Mette Berg is especially enthusiastic about. One is the well designed main window that allows to you get a complete overview of who is available and who is busy. The other is the ability, with a single keystroke, to block or divert incoming calls - for example to a mobile telephone. The Konica Minolta employees have discovered that OutBack is good for everybody: themselves, their colleagues, and people that call in.
"We are very far from a feeling of ’Big Brother is watching you’ because the employees themselves can see the advantage of updating the information about whether they are available or not", Mette Berg points out.
OutBack has been so well received in Konica Minolta and the results have been so convincing that Mette Berg has no doubts about the positive effect it has on the image and business of the company. And good telephone service is definitely always worth copying.
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