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Trucking site drives customer-oriented overhaul

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Over the decades, Anderson Trucking Service Inc. has built a road-worthy reputation for providing customized transportation services. The company operates a fleet of more than 1,000 tractors and 2,500 trailers, and delivers more than 100,000 loads annually throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada and, through its intermodal division, the Caribbean and Europe.

Like many other old-school b-to-b marketers, the Saint Cloud, Minn., company felt compelled to jump on the Internet. In 1997 it did so, but Anderson Trucking’s first bare-bones site didn’t add much value to the $245 million, privately held company’s marketing efforts. It offered a few basic tracking services, but it failed to provide anything approaching a new, more sophisticated level of customer service.

"It was a basic, static Web site, one that had been up for a few years and needed updating," said Larry Weston, e-commerce manager for Anderson Trucking. "It didn’t have the bells and whistles, the things that were needed to bring customers and drivers back to the site."

From white paper to e-CRM

As unveiled in October 2000, the new site (www.ats-inc.com) is anything but static. Using a $100,000 out-of-the-box e-business suite of applications from BroadVision Inc., Redwood City, Calif., Anderson Trucking was able to go from white paper to online customer relationship management within 14 weeks.

"We were able to deploy a site, using their software, that enabled us to put in all the features and functionality we need," Weston said. "We wanted to make it much easier to have our customer do business with us and stay with us, and we also wanted to give our drivers some personalized features as well. And we wanted to do it before any of our competition did. The package we got from BroadVision allowed us to get up and running very quickly."

Not only were customers asking for an improved Anderson Trucking online presence, but Weston said the company also felt an internal push to have an industry-leading site. An independent consultant working with the company before Weston came aboard last year recommended BroadVision and its personalized e-business applications. The key to that recommendation, Weston noted, was the extensive personalization and customization capabilities of BroadVision’s enterprise software. The goal was to offer the widest possible range of personalized information, logistics and e-business services to Anderson Trucking’s customers and drivers via the new site.

"We need to tailor our content to meet the needs of very different groups of people, from drivers to customers, and we don’t want to waste people’s time on things they don’t care to see," Weston said. "We update the site every day, throughout the day, and there’s something new for each person every time they come."

Let’s get personal

The Anderson Trucking site provides personalized information and services for drivers, employees and customers, with content served based on each unique log-on identification (www.my.ats-inc.com). The most popular feature of the site, Weston said, is "load tracking," which allows customers to track the location of their shipments in real-time with information downloaded from Qualcomm Inc.’s global positioning system devices installed in each truck. The GPS feature assists customers in scheduling the arrival of goods in order to meet just-in-time manufacturing commitments, Weston said, but it also has become very popular with drivers’ families, who like to know where their dad or spouse is throughout a particular trip.

Another feature, called "available loads," enables Anderson Trucking to post truck loads on a Web page that is updated every 10 minutes. Logistics carrier partners can easily identify loads to transport, speeding up the process of load assignment and pickup.

The new site also acts as a targeted marketing campaign in that it enables the company to differentiate itself from transportation competitors, including Warner Transportation, Sioux Falls, S.D., and Trism Inc., Kennesaw, Ga. "We’re constantly looking at ways to respond to customers’ and drivers’ needs—whatever it takes to make it easier and more profitable to do business with us," Weston said.

The site has proven to be a magnet as well for the company’s recruiting efforts. "It’s safe to say that we’re getting hundreds of inquiries a day," he said. "It’s helped our recruiting efforts quite a bit."

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