Magazine Article | July 1, 1998

Imaging Helps Cat Dealer Bulldoze Its Way To Better Customer Service

Source: Field Technologies Magazine
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This dealership for Caterpillar, a construction machinery manufacturer, used imaging to streamline its credit and collections department; daily call volumes have doubled.

Integrated Solutions, July-August 1998
After witnessing employees' searches for service-history records for hours, Gary DeLuca knew something had to be done. DeLuca is the communications manager for Alban Tractor Company, Inc. (Baltimore, MD). Alban Tractor is a Caterpillar dealer with 13 branch locations in Maryland, Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Delaware. (Caterpillar, headquartered in Peoria, IL, is a designer, manufacturer and marketer of earth-moving, construction and materials-handling machinery and heavy-duty engines).

Alban Tractor used to store its paper records - like invoice and service history documentation - on microfilm and microfiche. According to DeLuca, Alban's branch locations would send the original documents to the office in Baltimore, where the documents would be converted to film or fiche.

However, documents would sometimes sit and pile up for weeks before they were actually converted to film or fiche. Says DeLuca, "The Baltimore office sometimes received 1,600 documents a day. As a result, the documents would pile up. Trying to find documents that way could be a nightmare."

Film And Fiche Storage Hinders Employees
In order to streamline document access, Alban Tractor adopted a document and image management system from OTG Software. OTG Software (Bethesda, MD), is a developer of software for COLD (computer output to laser disk), mass storage, and document management. OTG Software's suite of products includes ApplicationXtenderTM, COLDXtenderTM, ReportXtenderTM and DiskXtenderTM.

Because Alban Tractor's documents previously were stored on film and fiche, accessing and retrieving information was anything but smooth for the company's employees. For example, credit and collections department employees also had to search through boxes of film and fiche to find invoice information. (This department calls customers who have not paid their invoices within 90 days).

Once employees found the appropriate film or fiche, they printed a hard copy of the information. They then would return to their desks and, by calling the customer, attempt to determine why the customer was late in paying the invoice. Because the employees continually had to walk back and forth between their desks and the film and fiche storage area, their time spent actually talking to customers was limited.

Imaging Automates Record Retrieval
However, since Alban adopted imaging, accessing and retrieving documents has become much easier for credit and collections department employees. For example, they can pull up electronic versions of the documents on their desktop PCs. As a result, employees no longer have to leave their desks every time they need to retrieve an invoice. This has allowed credit and collections employees to double the number of customer calls made on a daily basis.

OTG's Xtended Solutions Division has made significant impact to business productivity at 17 Caterpillar dealerships nationwide, according to Scott Kline, director of OTG's XSD Division. For example, employees at some of these 17 dealerships are now making nearly 60 customer calls a day, as opposed to the 30 or 35 they used to average.