Japan Auto Parts employs several salespeople, who respond to incoming sales inquiries. Most of these calls are requests for a price on a specific engine or gearbox, together with availability. The average length of call is less than 2 minutes, leaving just enough time to look up the part on a computer system, calculate and quote a price verbally, and then its on to the next phone call. A percentage of these callers will call back a few days later to accept the quoted price and request delivery.
Prior to implementing Blue Link ERP, the salespeople would each keep a pad of writing paper handy. Each day, they’d note the date at the top of the next fresh page, and each time when quoting a price they would scribble the person’s name, the part and price quoted. They would ask the caller to call the same salesperson back if they wished to accept the quote.
The problem, of course, was that when a prospect called to accept a quote, if they spoke to the same salesperson, that person would have to page back through the pad trying to find the quote. And when the caller did not recall the name of the salesperson who had provided the quote, then a search had to be made through all the pads for the approximate date of quote. Once the quoted price was located and confirmed, the entire transaction had to be entered as a sales order in the business system then in use.
So in addition to killing trees, this approach also involved time-consuming, labour-intensive processes, and on many occasions when the original quote could not be located, they had to honour a price that they weren’t 100% certain they had quoted.
Any attempts to automate this using quoting software were thwarted by the length of call, and therefore the limited time available to do lookups and data entry.