IN-DEPTH CASE STUDY

How Carey L. Delighted Customers And Gave Reps A Lighter Load

How do you eliminate complexity and expensive manual work in customer service?  

This was Carey Leaman’s challenge at Emmerson Packaging.

Our hero: Carey Leaman

Carey Leaman, ERP program manager, has worked at Emmerson Packaging in numerous capacities since 2014. As Business Change Leader, she directly influenced the company’s digital transformation. Before that, her time as Customer Service Manager provided a first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by reps and customers.

These experiences gave Carey a rock-solid foundation for the B2B portal project. Yet there were still plenty of challenges ahead.

Canadian-based Emmerson Packaging has served the flexible packaging industry for over 60 years. Founded in 1956 with 6 employees, Emmerson has now grown to more than 450 employees and has entered the third generation of family ownership. The company supplies premium flexible packaging to a range of industries across North America.

THE PROBLEM

ERP migration ended self-service for customers

Emmerson had used an industry-specific ERP for years, but it was time to migrate to a more robust solution. SAP ECC 6.0 would support Emmerson’s newer, more complex processes, but it meant shutting down the company’s home-grown customer portal, which had supported inventory inquiries and stock releasing through a custom ERP integration.

Emmerson couldn’t justify the cost and risk of building an all-new SAP-integrated portal from scratch. This meant their customers lost the ability to do business with the company online. Now customers started calling customer service with all kinds of questions.

  • Where’s my order?
  • What’s the status of my order?
  • Which products have been produced?
  • When am I going to get them?
  • How much stock is still in the warehouse?
  • How much stock did I release to my previous order?
  • Do I need to place another order to meet my production quota?

Static customer portal and additional CSRs didn’t solve the problem

Emmerson wanted to get their customer portal right, so they pursued interim solutions while researching their long-term options. Emmerson nearly doubled their customer service department to keep up with the inquiry volume, but this made life more complicated for customers, and it increased Emmerson’s cost of doing business.

The company also launched an external website that displayed static data from SAP ERP. Each customer could see their personalized data, but the information was updated only once a day, so it became obsolete within hours or minutes.

Only a few customers used the system, and everyone had to “fly blind” when doing business with Emmerson. Without access to 100% accurate real-time data for their orders (including inventory, invoices, and shipping reports), customers still had to call customer service any time they needed information.

Emmerson looked for a vendor to integrate the site to SAP in real time, but they couldn’t find one.

Carey Leaman, ERP program manager, had all the data that customers needed in SAP ERP. The challenge was to find a customer portal solution that would let customers interact with the right data, safely and securely, in a friendly user interface.

REQUIREMENTS

Delighting customers and planning for the future

The old portal made life easy for customers by showing them their personalized data from Emmerson’s ERP. At the very least, the new solution needed to hit the high bar that Emmerson had set for customer experience.  

But a rudimentary integration wouldn’t do. Emmerson’s business processes are complex and fully built out in SAP ERP. In particular, the portal solution had to support Emmerson’s warehouse stock release process, which allows customers to specify how to release their orders.

Emmerson wanted to take an iterative approach to the transition. (That’s a great fit for Corevist, by the way.) They planned to restore customer self-service for order tracking and invoices in the first rollout. In the second rollout, they would scale up to online ordering and stock releasing on the same platform. Ideally, launching online ordering wouldn’t require any additional infrastructure investment.

The search for a vendor

As you can imagine, Emmerson had a hard time finding a vendor who could deliver. The company evaluated several providers alongside Corevist, but no one else could meet their customers’ needs for real-time SAP data.

One vendor offered middleware that would extract inventory data from SAP and display it for customers. The vendor offered to build out more “information packs” like inventory, but each project was expensive, and none of the data came directly from SAP in real time. While the solution promised the right data, it couldn’t show it at the right time. Latency problems would render the software useless for customers who needed to see everything in real time.

Emmerson was getting frustrated.

“We said, wait a minute. We bought an integrated ERP. It doesn’t make sense to add middleware—that’s way too complex. There must be a better way.”

—Stephen Slauenwhite, VP finance and CFO

Why Emmerson chose Corevist

When Emmerson found Corevist, they were delighted.

Stephen Slauenwhite, VP finance and CFO, said, “Corevist was music to our ears. Everything coming out of SAP was live in real time. If a client checked the portal again 10 minutes later, they would immediately see any updates that had happened while they were away. Our old portal was only updated every 24 hours.”

Slauenwhite also appreciated Corevist’s fixed-bid implementation model. “Frankly, you and your team should take a huge bow for this,” he said. “Everyone else we dealt with said, ‘Sure, we can do that customization, for a fee.’ Your team said, ‘Why would you want to do that? You shouldn’t.’ Your team challenged us not to customize everything. I’ll tell you, you’re the first company on our journey that ever pushed back and said, ‘I don’t know why you guys are complicating this. Go live with everything that’s already there.’”

THE SOLUTION

Phase I: Customer portal integrated to SAP

Emmerson chose Corevist Commerce to restore self-service to their customers. With our real-time SAP integration and fast-loading interface, Emmerson empowered customers to track orders and invoices online.

This was a huge win for the company. They reduced the call load on customer service, while Carey’s IT team didn’t have to take on any new responsibility. SAP specialists could continue maintaining SAP ERP as they always had. Corevist’s direct integration would automatically display the right SAP data in the portal for every logged-in customer.

Phase II: Online ordering and stock releasing

In Phase II (planned), Emmerson will take customer experience to a whole new level with online ordering capabilities—something they had never before offered. Customers will gain the ability to place orders online, release stock from the warehouse, access personalized catalogs and price lists, and place repeat orders. Every logged-in customer will get real-time SAP data for things like inventory availability, contract pricing and alternative units of measure.

THE RESULTS

Customer service burden slashed by 97%

Emmerson has seen a huge impact already. One customer service rep was spending 16 hours per week answering questions from a major account. After launch, the rep only spent 30 minutes per week—a 97% decrease.

This is a huge step forward for reps. They no longer have to spend the majority of their time answering mundane inquiries. This means they can focus on value-added activities and building relationships with customers.

A clear roadmap for customer experience

Emmerson has also established a clear path forward in the digital age. With customers’ digital needs constantly evolving, it’s easy to fall behind or get locked into a software solution that can’t keep up.

Emmerson has future-proofed their digital customer experience. With their next rollout offering self-service ordering (with full support for Emmerson’s complex processes), the company has a phenomenal roadmap for improving customer experience and cutting costs.

“Selecting Corevist as an SAP-centered solution is a true win for our business and our customers so far—and this is just the beginning! Having live access to their entire account portfolio enables our customers to trust the information they are seeing. They can self-serve immediately and export data to analyze further as required.”

—Carey Leaman, ERP program manager

Eliminate complexity.

Let’s free up your reps to focus on higher-value tasks.

Corevist Commerce makes you easy to do business with in 30 days. With our built-in SAP ERP integration, you won’t create more work for IT.

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