Industry Article

CP Ships - Plain Sailing to Enterprise Integration


Analyst Report

Middleware makes Mainframe Applications

more Productive at APL


 

Call Centers - Transportation

Transportation companies are constantly struggling to balance their high-volume, logistics-intensive business with the need for efficient customer service. Operational re-engineering can provide economies of scale related to increased customer service representatives' (CSR) productivity and decreased operational costs. Consider the example of a freight company, with multiple call centers, that has 7 systems, (4 mainframe-based and 3 client/server), tasked with finding improvements in the order entry and customer service functions.

The re-engineering challenge is to consolidate the call center while preserving the customer intimacy and increasing overall service levels. Because of high staff turn-over, the new business processes need to reduce both the initial training time and time to average competency for new CSRs.

The existing mainframe systems are solid and highly functional, so replacing them does not make sense. Leveraging the existing legacy systems (mainframe and client/server) and building a customized graphical user interface is the better option. Consider how these challenges were overcome by American President Lines, one of the world's largest transportation and logistics companies.

Case-in-Point: American President Lines

Summary: American President Lines, Inc. (APL) provides container transportation services for both dry and refrigerated shipments in North America, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East through an inter-modal system combining ocean, rail and truck transportation. With annual revenues in the billions of dollars, APL operates three dedicated ocean terminals located in Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle with multiple connections to the company’s vast stack train network, the largest in North America.

An internal APL re-engineering report concluded that significant operational advantages could be obtained by consolidating the order entry process into one or two locations. The challenge was to consolidate the call centers while preserving the customer intimacy and increasing overall service levels. Because of high staff turn-over, the new process needed to reduce both the initial training time and time to average competency for new CSRs.

Integration Challenge

APL's challenge was to consolidate the complex order entry process behind a new front-end application in order to improve customer service and simplify the on-going training cycle.

Results

The new customer service tracing functionality was designed, constructed and deployed in approximately 6 months. The booking function required the same design and development time. All the Bookings from North America are handled by this MitemView-based system. Today, APL has service centers in Denver and Atlanta from which 120 CSRs process over 700 Bookings (orders) per day. The primary business objective of improving system ease-of-use was achieved with a measured reduction in training time.



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