Case Studies : Country Home Products
Country Home Products manufacturers a variety of hearty outdoor power tools, such as field and brush mowers, power graders, lawn and leaf vacuums, wood splitters, chippers, and lawn mowers. To sustain its business, Country Home Products, home of DR Power, which has been in operations since 1985, has dedicated a significant amount of resources – about 25% of its total labor costs – to a call center, which offers pre-sale and post-sale support to customers.
To maximize efficiency of that asset, the company had been relying on an antiquated workforce management system since 1999. "The system did not support current features, such as a Web interface that agents could use to check their scheduling data," stated Peter Pembroke, assistant manager of customer service at Country Home Products. The lack of a Web interface meant that only the company’s schedulers could access scheduling data.
Gauging scheduling needs was another problem. Country Home Products has about 250 employees, who perform such varied tasks from product design to manufacturing to support. Call center agents field inquiries about the firm’s two consumer product lines: the DR Power Equipment brand as well as the Neuton line of battery-powered mowers.
As the years passed, it became apparent that the previous workforce management system was ineffective. The company did not have a clear picture of its current workforce requirements. Change is a constant in a call center, and Country Home Products was unable to view what was happening during its work day. Instead, that information was collected and examined days or weeks after each shift. Consequently, there were times when it had more agents than required and other instances when more employees were needed.
In the summer of 2005, Country Home Products decided it was time to make a change. Initially, the company thought it would simply migrate to the latest version of its existing workforce management system. But as part of its due diligence, Country Home Products decided to examine what else was on the market. "When we initially saw the GMT system, it blew us away," said Pembroke. "The product design, user interface, and functionality were just so much better and easier to use than anything else on the market."
In December 2005, the decision was made to switch to GMT’s Planet, a workforce optimization system that supports strategic planning and budgeting functions, delivers shift scheduling information, scheduling adherence, and provides employees with various self-service options. A few months later, the system was up and running. "The installation was as smooth as any that I have ever been associated with," proclaimed Pembroke. "GMT’s product trainers were also very responsive and went the extra mile to get our questions answered."
With the new system in place, Country Home Products now has much more visibility into its call center personnel requirements. If the call volume was expected to be 1,500 calls per day and the number was closer to 1,100, then the company could let a few agents go home early for the day. This flexibility not only benefited agents, but it also helped the company reduce costs at every opportunity.
Country Home Products is also better able to track its ongoing call center expenses, such as training in order to keep its highly-skilled agents updated on the company’s wide array of product offerings, including tech support for legacy products. So when Country Home Products allocates a specific number of hours to train 20 agents, for instance, one or more agents occasionally may miss the training session. In addition, a training class may run longer or shorter than anticipated, or it could be canceled due to weather for outdoor equipment training. Before, the company had no visibility into such changes, but now it can track any discrepancy and has the real-time flexibility to adjust accordingly and immediately.
Further, the new system has empowered employees. They now can access scheduling information from their desktops. Also, the company currently has an easy-to understand, equitable way to deal with items such as the scheduling of employee breaks and vacation time. These items are important because Country Home Products focuses on attracting and retaining quality employees. "The turnover rate in our call center is quite low, only about four percent," stated Pembroke. Country Home Products improved call center efficiency and agent empowerment as enabled by GMT.
Country Home Results
1. Cost-savings from more accurate forecasting, scheduling and effective intraday real-time management
2. Enhanced schedule adherence for timeliness and consistency of service
3. Greater scheduling visibility for management control and flexibility
4. More empowered agents for increased employee satisfaction and customer service
About Country Home Products:
At DR® Power Equipment, we are passionate about the spirit of country living. We enjoy caring for our land, and take great pride in beautifying and improving the place we call home. To help us with our passion for independent country living, we appreciate good tools that are durable, simple and useful. That’’s why, since 1985, we have been manufacturing and selling tools that make outdoor work easier and more enjoyable.
About GMT Corp.:
GMT’s workforce management and performance optimization solutions create competitive advantage by enabling companies to improve customer service and sales across their enterprise, while decreasing their labor expenses. The company’s product line combines precision forecasting and intelligent scheduling with powerful analytics and performance management tools – together delivering a complete solution that can be deployed in throughout a company’s contact center, branch office and back office departments and is priced to deliver rapid return-on-investment. GMT serves enterprise clients across multiple vertical industries worldwide including BB&T, PRC, Alpine Access, Golfsmith, AirTran Airways, World Travel Holdings, Bank of the West, Zions Bancorporation, Ingenico, West Midlands Police, Contact 1-2-1 and Yarra Valley Water, among many others. GMT is a recognized industry leader in client satisfaction due to its unique SureServices client care methodology. The company is privately held with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia and offices in the U.K., Australia, South Africa and Dubai.
Published: Monday, August 06, 2007