With more than €400 million (U.S.$600 million) annual revenue, Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift Europe (MCFE) manufactures, sells, and distributes forklifts and related spare parts in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa through its network of approximately 100 distributors. MCFE was founded in 1992 as part of a joint venture between forklift manufacturers Mitsubishi and Caterpillar. The head office is located in Almere, a city outside of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where it produces approximately 18,000 forklifts a year at its 66.000m2 (16.3 acres) manufacturing plant.
MCFE’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, built on a MAPICS AS/400 platform, handled all primary functions but lacked several elements needed to meet new requirements. “Our business requirements have changed the last five years,” says Robert Vleeschhouwer, General Manager of MCFE’s Information Systems Department. “Service towards our dealer channel has become more important to us. We wanted to be able to manage the communication with our dealers. We used to manage these communications in several locations using a great number of small databases. Because of that, it was hardly possible to collect management information concerning contact-related processes. It was also difficult to enter standard work instructions.”
MCFE also had a dealer-facing configuration system, but found it unstable and difficult to manage. “If the system failed, we couldn’t find out why,” explains Vleeschhouwer. Dealers couldn’t tell if shipments were on schedule, and if the wrong part was received, MCFE had a hard time tracking down the source of the error, causing delays in correcting the situation. After a careful technical review, MCFE determined that expanding the existing system would not serve its need to manage these additional functionalities.
Vleeschhouwer notes, “We were looking for one additional solution which could manage the communication with our dealers and services organization, and automate more processes.” Key needs for this system included contact management, a dealer information sheet, and tracking of service and sales calls. The company researched which solution would fit its requirements and selected Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM business software.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM best fulfilled MCFE’s selection criteria for improving sales and service effectiveness. Much of the functionality MCFE wanted was already built into Microsoft Dynamics CRM, helping speed time to value and return on current investments in Microsoft® technology, training, and resources.
Workflow automation allows MCFE to automate many paper-based processes, increasing efficiency and improving management’s visibility into sales and service details. “We wanted to rebuild as little as possible, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers a lot of possibilities out-of-the-box regarding sales and services,” says Vleeschhouwer. “And Microsoft Dynamics CRM runs on the Microsoft platform, which is an advantage for us as we already have the platform know-how within our organization. And we want to maintain as few platforms as possible.”
Because Microsoft Dynamics CRM works as a natural extension of the Microsoft Office Outlook® messaging and collaboration client, users have an intuitive understanding of the solution from the start. All e-mails, meetings, and calls are easily recorded and accessible from within a program widely used throughout MCFE, and users can incorporate CRM processes into their everyday activities without having to learn and use a separate system.
“We have been able to reduce the amount of time we spend on service calls by an average of 80 percent per call. We now spend far less time chasing problems and more time improving the total quality of our business.”
Robert Vleeschhouwer, General Manager, Information Systems Department at MCFE
Before implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM, MCFE had no real system for managing the sales and service calls it received from its dealers. Calls, e-mails, and faxes were received in several locations throughout the region, and each customer service center was responsible for developing its own methods for resolving and tracking issues. Sometimes issues that had been reported and solved in one region would surface in another region, and there wasn’t an orderly system for sharing this information between service centers. It was virtually impossible for the corporation to see how many service calls were being resolved, how many remained unresolved, and how long the unresolved calls had been open. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, MCFE has been able to deploy a true case-management system that improves service effectiveness for dealer service calls. Customer service staff can quickly access all relevant dealer, product, and order information, making it much faster and easier to understand and resolve issues.