01 | Problem
One of the world’s largest packaged snack food companies was losing millions of dollars each year servicing its small store accounts due to the high costs and inefficiency of traditional truck delivery to mom-and-pop convenience and off-route stores. In addition, store owners were not given proper customer service or purchase options. The sole inventory options for store owners was to purchase whatever happened to be left on the truck that day, creating a very frustrating customer experience.
This inventory replenishment method was not only a hassle, but it limited the profitability of both the store owners and the packaged snack food company. Servicing these accounts was necessary from a marketing and customer service standpoint, but it was not rational from a logistical point of view.
Unable to reach a satisfying agreement with its small store accounts, the snack food company was forced to cancel the accounts until a more viable solution was available.
02 | Solution
The company partnered with Dialog Direct to create a custom solution. Snacks Direct, a proprietary order management system, was introduced to reorganize the order process by allowing small store owners to easily place orders in their desired quantities via the phone, web or fax. Once an order was placed, it was routed to one of the client’s 21 nationwide distribution centers and shipped out via UPS directly to the store for resale, eliminating the costly expense of traditional truck delivery. To further simplify the process, Dialog Direct’s internal software development team created a customized CRM system for the client, allowing our customer service agents to engage with and manage each store account, giving them the ability to up-sell products based on previous orders, regional tastes, promotions and product sales in the area. The system also allowed the snack food company to make enhancements and adjustments because it’s fully integrated with the distribution centers and key contact personnel.
In addition to the CRM for internal use, Dialog Direct’s development team created an online web ordering site to further cut down costs by giving the store owners a self-service option. With this online ordering site, customers can place orders through the web anytime, day or night. Once an order is placed, it is sent to the distribution center for fulfillment just like the phone orders. The ordering site is connected to the CRM, so whether a store owner places an order via phone, web or fax, tracking can all be recorded and managed for a superior customer service experience.
This solution comes full-circle by providing outbound dialing campaigns, follow-up calls, welcome calls, delivery tracking, customer requests and complaint services … all operated by Dialog Direct.
03 | Results
Dialog Direct and the Snacks Direct ordering and shipping system were able to turn a profit drainer into a profit center by eliminating the costs involved with frequent labor and truck stop costs on small orders.
The trained Dialog Direct staff also became a seamless extension of the packaged snack food company’s Customer Service department. By taking product orders and seizing up-sell opportunities, agents increased the average snack food order by 50%. The ability to place orders via the web versus the phone also cut costs by 40% as the labor costs of a customer service agent was cut down with self-service.
The flexibility and customizable approach that Dialog Direct has provided changed the snack food company’s small store clients. The Snack Direct system has empowered small store clients to order a larger variety of products that are best suited for their particular stores with a weekly ordering cycle, increasing the order frequency for the snack food company. This convenient ordering cycle strikes a balance of keeping inventory replenished while managing budgets and building relationships. It has also empowered the packaged snack food company to grow by being able to offer superior service, flexible staffing, product up-sells and managed relationships while significantly lowering costs.
Dialog Direct currently services about 22,000 small store accounts with 21 nationwide distribution centers, generating a targeted $32 million in annual sales for our clients. Dialog Direct agents answer 80% of calls within 20 seconds, with a <4% abandonment rate, and completions of all welcome calls are done within 24 hours of obtaining a new customer into the system.