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November 2002: Fleet Maintenance & Technology
An innovative digital telephone recording technology is improving accuracy and response times for FleetNet America as it responds more effectively to fleet breakdowns across the nation's highways.
The Cherryville, N.C.-based road breakdown management company has installed the new product, Phone 2 PC-Call Center by San Diego-based Konexx. Phone 2 PC-Call Center can be used with an individual personal computer or notebook and is compatible with any Microsoft Windows operating system. Recorded files may be stored on local hard drives or dedicated network servers.
FleetNet America's call volume is always heavy, averaging about 10,000 calls each month, according to Oren Summer, FleetNet America CEO.
"Response times are very critical to our operation," Mr. Summer said. "We need to know quickly where a unit is, what's wrong with it, and dispatch assistance right away." Coordinators were using small cassette recorders at each station with a pickup to the phone. "The cassette recorders were unreliable and accessing conversations was very difficult, - We needed to find something that did more."
A Phone 2 PC-Call Center interface connects a telephone handset to a computer sound card, allowing coordinators to record telephone conversations directly to compressed WAV files that can be e-mailed as attachments or archived for future reference. Recordings can be easily annotated with the coordinators comments either at the beginning or end of the original recording. A digital voice stamp is placed at the beginning and end of the original recording to ensure security. Users can select on-demand or voice activated recording too.
There are now 25 Phone 2 PC-Call Center stations in place. Mr. Summer said his coordinators are usually dealing with emergency situations and a lot of times the callers are "under the gun" and sometimes forget how necessary accurate information is to the proper assessment of the situation.
"A trucker may tell us he broke down at a particular intersection, when in fact he may be either moving or in some cases several exits from the first location assessment," Mr. Summer said. "By having a time stamp on the recording, it dispels all theories of possible communication errors and interpretations with regards to strategic time and information data. We now know to the second when someone calls in."
Phone 2 PC-Call Center is also helpful as an audit function, said Mr. Summer.
"A coordinator may be told by a caller that a specific tire size is required and when we send the vendor out to him, it turns out it's the wrong size," Summer said. "We can quickly determine whether the caller did indeed give us the correct size or if the vendor misinterpreted the tire size information, since we can immediately access the recording."
He said the system has enabled his five supervisors to conduct more extensive communications training because there is instant playback and they can critique techniques and proper phone etiquette.
"We can annotate certain sections, show them phrases that need to be modified, corrected or improved upon," he said. "We can access and listen to conversations virtually anywhere - from my office, or out in the field via a laptop."
Postage and storage costs have also been dramatically reduced. Most of FleetNet America's clients now ask for the WAV files, which are e-mailed and can be accessed in minutes instead of hours. The company no longer has to mail cassette tapes and doesn't have to store thousands of the tapes on-site.
"Our business is growing 30-40 percent a year so it was vital to find a system that could expand with us," Mr. Summer said. "Other systems we investigated were anywhere from five to 10 times more expensive and didn't do nearly as much as what we have. We can now conveniently store files on our network, the quality of our recording has improved, and we can e-mail files when needed. The Konexx Phone 2 PC-Call Center has become an integral element of our business."
FleetNet America service includes a full spectrum of emergency breakdown requirements, including mechanical, tires, and towing. In short, said Mr. Summers, any service need that hinders trucking clients' equipment from rolling is available via FleetNet America's round-the-clock network.
FleetNet America's 60,000-plus vendor network is managed by 30 coordinators, who average more than 20 years experience in fleet maintenance experience. The company is a privately held, wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Best Corporation. Fort Smith, Ark.
Return to: 2002 Feature Stories