Plastics firm learns CRM makes it more flexible

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CHALLENGE: United States Plastic Corp. (USPC) sends out 3.5 million catalogs each year, each with the company’s customer service and sales e-mail addresses printed on it. In addition, USPC, which sells industrial safety products and plastics—ranging from 9-cent earplugs to $6,000 tanks—maintains two Web sites that act as both sales generators and customer service portals. Combined, the offline and online catalogs generate 450 to 500 e-mails each day, said Kevin Kempton, USPC’s marketing director.

The company dealt with the e-mails manually until about four months ago. E-mails came in and were forwarded directly to call center customer service agents. There, they were answered. But those answers—and the original e-mails—weren’t tracked or stored. "There was no way for management to track the efficiency of the whole operation," Kempton said. "Plus, even when we responded to a customer, they might respond back, then we’d respond again, but there was no lasting record of the exchange. It was really unorganized."

SOLUTION: USPC evaluated more than 15 CRM automation options before it chose’s VisNetic MailFlow 2.0, a Web-based
e-mail management program.

"The program is very well priced for what it does," Kempton said. "It takes e-mail and routes it automatically to the correct person. It’s really similar to call center routing, too. If something comes in, [any customer service agent] can go in, pick out an e-mail and answer it. The best part is, if the customer responds, the response goes right back to that original agent."

RESULTS: USPC is using VisNetic MailFlow for all inbound and outbound e-mail communications. The main benefit is response time; customers get answers within one to three hours instead of 24 to 48 hours, which was the average response time in the past. Customers also benefit from improved e-mail quality. Because management can review every message and e-mail, agents take more care with their work, Kempton said.

Also, the dozen agents who answer e-mail have an easier time doing their job because all e-mail correspondence from a particular customer is routed to the same person. —Karen J. Bannan

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