News | June 1, 2021

Customer Relationship Management team moving to modern service tool 

By Beth Reece

Customer Relationship Management team members throughout the Defense Logistics Agency are transitioning to a new service-management tool called ServiceNow that enables easier, more efficient handling of customer inquiries.

The effort moves about 1,700 Customer Interaction Center agents and customer-facing representatives away from the CRM service-management module implemented in 2007 as part of the Enterprise Business System, which DLA uses to manage daily business processes. Modernization will help the agency reduce manual tasks and take advantage of automation and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. 

“The new platform gives us enhanced capabilities and centralizes customer inquiry data. It’s a big step toward improving case management and puts us in line with industry best practices,” CRM Program Management Analyst Loyce Paul said. 
 
Employees are expected to begin creating and managing new customer inquiries in ServiceNow this summer. Existing tickets will continue to be managed in EBS until they’re resolved. 

CRM leaders at DLA Headquarters and major subordinate commands spent the past six months working with DLA information technology specialists to develop and test the new basic framework. Employee training is ongoing through early July. 

The initial product supports case management at the same level as the EBS tool, Loyce said. Early benefits include shorter customer wait-times since DLA users will be able to conduct logistics research in a single portal rather than relying on numerous resources to collect data. The tool will also combine phone and email inquiries into a single queue so employees can answer questions based on arrival sequence.

“Before, we had to work email separately through Outlook, but our new tool allows us to manage them the same way we do calls,” said Shannon Calhoun, deputy director of customer support. “Being able to handle multiple channels of communication through ServiceNow will make our responses more timely.”

Upgrades in phases two and three scheduled through 2022 will add customer self-help tools and more flexibility for managing business processes, said Andy Monday, director of DLA’s Customer Support Division. 

“Having capabilities such as a virtual agent are on our to-do list and that’s where customers are going to get the most satisfaction and value from this transformation,” he said. 

Giving them tools to handle less complex issues will also free CIC and CRM employees to solve tough problems that are beyond the scope of automation, he added. 

“Our customer support representatives and CIC agents will be able to provide more in-depth assistance as customers plan for future operations or look for creative solutions rather than help them solve simple issues,” Monday said. “Some of our new capabilities are still being built, but this is how we expect to make customer service easier and faster.”

Other future benefits include customer visibility into case ticket status using real-time updates, improved communication and collaboration among agents to resolve tickets, and customer service metrics. 

The transition is part of DLA Information Operations’ Digital Business Transformation, which is expected to improve the agency’s IT capabilities and provide advanced analytics and automation. The switch to ServiceNow also supports Objective 3.3 of the 2021-2026 Strategic Plan: Provide next generation customer service. CRM is one of six initial IT modernization programs the agency is pairing with ServiceNow.