FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
A modern platform for tracking email, phone and fax inquiries from Defense Logistics Agency customers is now live after more than a year of preparation and coordination among customer relationship management experts and information technology specialists from throughout the agency.
Called ServiceNow and used by Customer Interaction Center agents and customer-facing representatives, the tool enables easier, more efficient handling of service tickets and is part of a DLA-wide initiative to use automation and emerging technologies in managing business processes.
CRM leaders at DLA Headquarters and major subordinate commands have worked with DLA Information Operations’ IT staff since December to develop and test the new basic framework. User training took place in June and July and the tool launched Aug. 9.
“We’re still working to update, tweak and modify the system so it’s at 100%, but making it available to end users is a huge accomplishment made possible by the entire CRM team, site integrators at the MSCs and our IT partners,” said Angela Patterson, a CRM Program management analyst at DLA Headquarters.
Microsoft Teams “war rooms” where users detailed technical and functional issues for IT specialists standing by to assist helped make the transition smooth.
“It allowed us to see what challenges were surfacing and the solutions put in place so we didn’t have multiple people reporting the same problems,” said Tracy Nance, CIC’s lead customer support specialist.
Nance and other team leads also worked with users to determine whether issues were training related and could be solved with additional instruction or needed addressed by IT staff.
Daily hot washes were also held during launch week for the team to discuss significant issues. When some users received “logout successful” messages, for example, it took in-depth study to determine the cause.
“Users were creating contact records for themselves, which created a conflict on the user table, which then locked them out of ServiceNow. The IT team created a new field called internal contact to eliminate the issue,” Patterson said.
John Cain from DLA Disposition Services’ Warfighter Support Branch praised the changeover.
“Never in my 35-plus years as a warfighter and Defense Department civilian have I experience a smoother transition from one IT platform to another,” he said. “The lights flickered a bit, but never went out.”
Although system changes often result in decreased performance, Andy Monday, director of DLA’s Customer Support Division, said there’s been minimal disruption. Tickets created in the Enterprise Business System before ServiceNow’s launch will continue to be managed in EBS until Dec. 24. About 12,000 tickets were in EBS at go-live and about 10,000 remained by Aug. 19.
Additional capability is expected to be added to the CRM module in phases two and three scheduled through 2022. Enhancements will add customer self-help tools and more flexibility for managing business processes.