ACME Truck reps use PDAs, CRM to process sales leads

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CHALLENGE: Acme Truck Line Inc. is a flatbed trucking service that transports equipment, materials and supplies. The company, based in Harvey, La., maintains a fleet of 1,300 trucks and specializes in short hauls of 100 to 180 miles. It handles 4,000 loads each week within the Gulf Coast states.

Acme wanted to link its 70 offices, which are scattered throughout the Southeast, with a Web-based application that could streamline its business infrastructure. The trucking company's sales staff, dispatch-ers and credit/collections employees frequently shared customer information, but each office operated on separate local area networks (LANs). Different offices didn't share leads; instead, each office's dispatcher would write the lead information on paper and give it to a sales rep, who would follow up.

"[It would] take one day to two weeks before someone [received] the information. Communication between the sales team was what we needed to get information from one end to another," said Mike Coatney, president of Acme. "The whole idea is to have that single view of customer service."

SOLUTION: Last summer, Acme deployed Pleasanton, Calif.-based Accpac International Inc.'s eCRM software. With eCRM fully integrated into its IBM iSeries infrastructure, Acme has been able to expedite and simplify its customer service by immediately delivering a consolidated view of customer activities to every employee.

For example, Acme sales reps can have a complete view of a customer's activity and specific order information-such as what truck was used, which office ordered it and what its destination was.

"One of the exciting things about this product is that [information] is available every day. We don't have to synchronize it," Coatney said.

Each of Acme's 30 sales representatives can now access the eCRM system using electronic forms on a personal digital assistant (PDA). For instance, after visiting a prospect, a sales rep might enter into the Accpac system information about the prospect's business and the trucking services it currently uses. The system alerts the sales rep to take action if the form is not completed within a certain time frame.

The eCRM application also streamlines Acme's leads. Employees from sales, the national accounts department or any dispatcher from any location can enter leads into eCRM. The system automatically sends this information to the appropriate regional sales manager's "to-do" list, which can be accessed online or through a PDA. After reviewing the task, the manager then assigns it to a sales rep and transfers it to the rep's "to-do" list.

Additionally, Accpac eCRM's management tools provide full reports and summaries of an account's weekly activity. Sales managers can track and analyze each phase of the field sales effort.

RESULTS: Coatney said the sales reps appreciate having real-time, updated customer information literally at their fingertips in any location.

Also, each manager and rep now finds out about every lead and can handle them consistently. Prior to using the eCRM system, the sales team was aware of only 100 leads each month, Coatney said. After installing the system, Acme has reported 400 to 500 leads each month.

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