From knowing your customer’s needs and having follow-up procedures in place to handling complaints head-on — as a dealer, you’re expected to be committed to customer satisfaction.
But how long can you rely on traditional tactics to keep up with growing customer demands and changing expectations?
One lift truck dealer that’s adopting technology to drive efficiency and improve customer service is Eastern Lift Truck Co. Living up to its motto: “We’re known for good service”, the company is making a conscious effort to support their customers for today and tomorrow.
Founded in 1971 by John Pruitt, Eastern Lift Truck Co. started as a small lift truck business and has today transformed into a “thriving powerhouse” for material handling equipment and supplies.
It provides new and used forklifts for all applications, replacement parts, planned and emergency service, fleet asset management, warehouse products and systems design, and a fully staffed training department providing OSHA and ANSI operator training and certifications.
We chatted with the Fleet Director of Eastern Lift Truck Co., Rich Brazzle, about how DIS MyPortal helps them access real-time customer data and improve service levels.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Rich: There are different components in fleet management. There’s one side where I help customers manage their costs and understand whether they need to buy or lease, whether they need more trucks, and whether they need to service trucks.
I’m an advisor to the customer and I help them manage that through data processes. So, the customer buys or services a forklift from us, we provide that service to them.
There’s a cost involved in that too. I help manage the trends of those costs to see data-driven decisions for the customer on how to manage those fleets. We also do telemetry which is the transference of data devices that go into equipment and pass data from the equipment back to a server.
Why did you decide to start using MyPortal?
Rich: In the fleet management world, the MyPortal concept is amazing. Prior to that, the tool we used had analog data which needed to be processed and formatted. Now we’re trying to use real-time data to keep up with what other industries are doing.
There are many technologies such as OES systems, lasers, geo-mapping, and GPS. And part of what I’m doing is bringing that mindset and technology to our customer base.
The goal with MyPortal was to attract customers, analyze data, provide real-time insights on how they’re using their equipment, and improve customer service.
How long have you been using MyPortal?
Rich: Over 8 months. There is a specific set of customers who have been using MyPortal since February.
How has your experience of using MyPortal been so far and what impact has it had on your customer service?
Rich: The concept of MyPortal is great. We had envisioned getting an out-of-the-box, ready-to-go portal for the industry and it looked like the right decision.
Customers use it mainly to make service calls. With MyPortal, they get features they wouldn’t have had before. For instance, there’s a chat feature that didn’t exist before. Instead of making a phone call to the customer service representative, they have the ability to have a conversation right away. So, it was a great foot forward.
How has it changed the way your team works?
Rich: Definitely. Our business is old school — we like to talk to our customers. We want to go to the customers, we want to shake their hands, we want to look them in the eye and tell them who we are.
But the company is also smart. They know that there is a customer base out there that don’t do that. They’re not from that mentality. They want to do everything the way that they’ve been doing it.
That customer base is changing it for us. So when that service call comes in, which usually was a phone call or a hand-to-hand meeting with one of our customer service representatives, that conversation is now handed to our dispatcher or a service team.
That’s making those customers happy because that’s how they do business with everybody else and that’s how they want to do business with us.
Yes, we’ll still have those handshake meetings. We’ll never stop doing it but this allows us to build a base for today and tomorrow.
It’s changed the mindset of my department and when we roll this out globally to my entire company, it will definitely change the way we do business and keep us extremely competitive.
Does it save time for your team to do these communications virtually instead of in person or on the phone?
Rich: It’s mostly got to do with the manpower that I had to put on the backend to create the static reports, wait for 3 months, and give them to the customer.
MyPortal has features for billing, accounting, and reporting that would normally take me a long time to generate, execute and deliver. When we roll out MyPortal with all these features, it’s going to be a game-changer for how we do business.
Do you have any advice or tips for other dealers who are looking to future-proof their business?
Rich: My advice to any dealer is to understand that your customer base is not always going to be what it is today. It’s going to be changing. All you’ve got to do is walk into something similar — walk into a brand-new car or walk into the way they’re building houses.
Once you put technology into place, the data that follows behind it is just as important. The forklift industry has never thought about that. We need to think about that. We need to hand these young CEOs the power to understand how they’re handling equipment.
So, if I had any advice for dealers it’s knowing what’s coming and making sure you partner up with people that understand that as well.
Want to know how DIS MyPortal can transform your customer experience? Learn more about MyPortal here.