Getting a piece of the customer service solutions action, which is currently in high demand and therefore lucrative, requires delivery of your own very high standards of service.
According to Matthew Barnier, managing director for enterprise solutions provider Planwell Technology, solutions such as customer relationship management (CRM) and call centre applications require their own high levels of customer service. However, he said it is the old fashioned "getting-to-know-you" style of service as opposed to the technology-based assistance being sold.
Having completed an enterprise-wide national customer service call centre implementation for retailer Franklins, Barnier said it is only when you really understand a customer's business that you can deliver the right solution.
"We are in the market of putting customer service call centres in for our customers," Barnier said. "You are generally dealing with customer service professionals and they are critical judges of the service they receive.
"Often they don't really know what they want or even how to describe it. You must know the business you are selling into because it gets tricky understanding what it is that the customer wants and expects. "We use the motto 'Your business, your way'."
Barnier said Franklins' National Customer Care Centre went live a few months ago and is processing in excess of 4000 calls per week from all over the country. Everything from consumer issues to IT service and human resources management is handled by the solution which started three years ago as a humble IT department help desk installation for managing maintenance and servicing.
"We went in on the back of an NCR deal originally," he said. "They were supplying the hardware and called us in to help with the help desk implementation because they wanted to use Remedy software.
"For 12 months we worked up that system and tailored it to exactly what they wanted. As it got running they started to identify the full potential and work out where they could expand its functionality. The customer care centre is the result.
"You could say that the help desk was a pilot and when they had tested it out they saw that it worked and delivered some benefits, so it was expanded."
Pauline Triggiani, Franklins' National Customer Care Centre Manager, stated that Franklins is able to effectively monitor and continue to improve customer satisfaction rates as a result of the Planwell solution. She commented that its flexibility enables Franklins to adapt and build upon existing systems as the needs of the business grow.
The Franklins deal is one of the largest of 80 or so similar solutions Planwell has sold as a reseller of enterprise software vendor Remedy, which specialises in IT service management, customer relationship management and employee workplace automation solutions.
Franklins claims to be "Australia's largest discount supermarket chain" and overall is rated as Australia's third-largest supermarket. The Asian, Australian and New Zealand operations of its parent company comprise 1400 outlets including supermarkets, convenience stores and drug stores.