Madison, WI—Jan. 24, 2012—Esker, a provider of document process automation solutions, has contracted with Kärcher North America—a producer of consumer, commercial, and industrial cleaning equipment — to centralize customer service functionalities and automate fax processes with a single, cloud-based solution.
Of the 450 sales orders received daily across all of Kärcher’s 12 product brands and seven North American locations, nearly 90 percent come in via fax. Since each fax is manually processed, and all Kärcher brands have independent customer service organizations, the visibility, efficiency and confidence in their paper-based method was low.
In an effort to improve processes, optimize staff and simplify the customer service landscape, Kärcher sought a hosted solution that could easily integrate with their current SAP system.
“Our current process was unsustainable,” said Jeff Fithian, senior director of IT at Kärcher. “Currently, faxes have to be printed, picked up, walked around, placed on desks and manually entered into SAP. If a fax image needs to be retrieved at a later time by our customer service team, depending on how it was scanned and stored, it can be very difficult and sometimes impossible to retrieve.” Kärcher pursued a system that would allow its staff to easily access the original fax image without installing new servers or software, as well as bypass the large volume of non-value work that customer service was performing.
In searching for the right solution, Kärcher was presented with a number of options. “We looked into different vendors and even considered doing it in-house using e-fax/Microsoft Outlook and managing it that way,” said Fithian. “One day, someone forwarded me an email promoting an Esker webinar— I attended. Esker had more experience with SAP and had exactly what we were looking for in terms of an ‘out of the box’ solution that didn’t require a lot of extra customization on our end.”
Upon implementation of the Esker solution, Kärcher will be able to link URLs of faxed images directly on the Esker platform into SAP, where customer service staff can click on the link in SAP and open the document. Fithian expects to see significant productivity benefits, primarily revolving around the efficiency of the customer service team.
“We currently have a large, geographically dispersed customer support team supporting our multiple brands. This causes inefficiencies in our customer service operations as we do not have the flexibility and tools in place to support our growing business without adding additional headcount,” said Fithian.
“After going live with Esker, we are targeting a 30 percent productivity improvement for our customer service team. This will allow us to grow our business without adding additional headcount, and to reallocate some of our higher skilled customer service personnel to more high-value activities that better serve the customer instead of dedicating a significant portion of their time to data entry.”
Kärcher has a two to three year goal to leverage the Esker solution for more savings and process improvements throughout the company. Fithian added, “Once we get stable with this first phase of the Esker solution, we plan to pursue further automation of the order entry process, customer invoicing and Mail on Demand. There is significant potential for us with this technology and we intend to get as much out of it as we can.”