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HomeTHE HOTTEST TOPICSFrom retail to e-tailGoing Mobile: Digitising field processes for big performance gains

Going Mobile: Digitising field processes for big performance gains

With most of PGGW’s critical interactions happening in the field, between technical field representatives (TFRs) and farm-based customers, PGGW needed to move away from their manual processes and embrace a modern, touch-enabled and responsive mobile solution that would capture and provide key information where and when it was needed.

Before the creation of ‘Blue Note’, a Windows 8.1 and CRM 2011 tablet-based app, TFRs manually recorded information in PGGW’s iconic ‘blue books’, calling back to the store when further details were required or retrieving product information by thumbing through stacks of manuals stored in the car boot. And in order to update customer information across the board, PGGW would undertake time-consuming surveys.

John Skurr, PGGW’s national sales support manager says, “We were holding core information in our back office system and the challenge was that this wasn’t giving us the business benefits we wanted – this information needed to be in the hands of our frontline staff. And, even more importantly, our frontline staff, our technical field reps (TFRs), are having vital customer interactions that we needed to capture in the field and automatically bring this information into our CRM system. We needed a mobile solution that would allow information to flow both ways and deliver the true business value we knew could be achieved for our Retail and Fruitfed divisions.”

THE TECHNOLOGY

“Having been to Microsoft’s Convergence conference and seeing what was possible, I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but didn’t know what it would look like. Intergen made it happen and provided the right tools, using Windows 8.1 and CRM 2011, to make this vision a reality, and NV Interactive worked closely with Intergen to provide a visually appealing and intuitive design for the solution.” 

Optimised for touch interaction and with a responsive user interface designed specifically for – and with the input of – its users, the Blue Note app executes on a tablet device, giving TFRs access to customer insights while offline. It provides a platform for capturing and recording details of customer activity, while simultaneously syncing updated entries with CRM. The app makes it possible for TFRs to retrieve existing information and establish new records on-demand. Locating customers, scheduling meetings and tracking interactions through Blue Note suits the existing operational behaviour of TFRs, while improving accessibility by centralising all data streams into one mobile system.

A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO CHANGE

Skurr is quick to point out that, while the technology is cutting edge, technology is only one part of the picture. To be truly successful, PGGW needed to take its people on the journey and make sure they were ready for a change of this magnitude – exchanging their trusty ‘blue books’ for shiny new mobile technology.

“It has been an ongoing process of cultural change, evolving to a point where we are ready, and before we built the technology we needed to put in place process changes to reflect the way we wanted to do business. The app was then designed to match these processes; and because the whole process – both the change initiative and the technology project itself – has been business-led, with key people part of the process the whole way through, the result has been really great adoption, with our sales people saying things like, You really listened when we told you what we wanted.”

ACHIEVING TRUE PARTNERSHIP

The project team comprised a number of different parties, including Intergen for development and deployment of the solution, NV Interactive for interface design, X4 Consulting for project management and PGG Wrightson’s own IT team, steering group and other advisors from throughout the business.

“We wanted a best in class solution, and we decided to do this by bringing together the best people in each area. This created complexity, and we needed to make sure we were all open and had good communication,” Skurr says. “We were really lucky to have the right people, with a high level of trust, and everyone focused on getting the right outcomes, irrespective of who they worked for.”

THE GAIN

Retail and Fruitfed TFRs now have a user friendly, intuitive system, designed for them with their input. The tablet-based app is inherently touch friendly, allows for lengthy times offline and can be comfortably used in the cab of a truck as well as walking around a farm. Blue Note has been received by the TFRs with “genuine excitement,” Skurr says, with one TFR summing up the general mood by saying, “It gives me heaps more time in my day”.

TFRs now have all the information they need at their fingertips. They can engage with their customers on location and in real-time, without having to call back to HQ to acquire or offload information. These new levels of efficiency enable greater productivity and the building of stronger customer relationships through more fluid interactions. At the same time, PGGW will receive invaluable customer information direct from the field, enhancing the quality and value of its CRM data, ultimately allowing better understanding of – and service to – its customers. 

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