More than half of the household appliances manufactured in Wronki are exported. Amica’s products cook, bake, cool and wash in millions of households in Poland and over 40 countries worldwide. Foreign markets in which Amica Wronki SA operates include Germany – where most of Amica appliances are sold – as well as Russia, England, Scandinavia and other countries.
In the household appliances industry, customer sa-tisfaction with appliances being used is influenced not only by their functions, design, comfort of use or being in line with standards relating to low consumption of water and electric energy. It is also the warranty and post-warranty service quality must meet customers’ requirements.
For this purpose, manufacturers of household ap-pliances use various strategies: from creating their own service networks up to outsourcing the whole process to specialized companies. In the demanding German market, Amica has decided for an intermediate model – “controlled outsourcing”.
The warranty and post-warranty service is provided by an external company, while service requests are received and processed by the Amica International Service Center in Ascheberg. By running its own service center, Amica can preserve control over the quality and cost of customer service, as well as ex-pand its network of cooperating partners.
The Service Center in Ascheberg is actually a call center which most important tasks include the rece-ipt of customers’ requests and cooperation with service companies that is actually executing the repairs.
The Service Department of Amica in Wronki, which is responsible for service activities in Poland and abroad, inspects and monitors the operation of the German call center, and reports this information to the management board.
To ensure the efficient completion of those tasks, it was necessary to develop a solution that would enable the coordination of service activities and proper settlement of repairs made.
SAP ERP is a basic IT system that has been supporting the company operations since more than 12 years now. It is one of the most extensive SAP installations in Poland. Therefore, when a business need to implement further IT tools emerged in Amica, the decision about using SAP tools was obvious. The task of building a comprehensive solution for Amica’s servicing in the German market on the basis of SAP CS (Customer Service) tools was entrusted to BCC.
During a seven-month-long project, BCC, in coop-eration with specialists from Amica IT – InTeco Business Solutions, prepared a solution that supports the process of handling service orders – from their registration, through feasibility assessment and cooperation with partners providing servicing, up to acceptance, reporting and control over costs of repairs.
Detailed blueprint, important data
The work on solution development was carried out starting from April to October 2009. First, an analysis of business requirements was performed. As a result of this analysis, a final system solution was selected. The conceptual work required designing a complete solution implementing the process as from receiving a request by a service operator up to settling a repair by corporate controlling and having the costs included in the company’s management reports.
Alicja Choły, Amica Project Manager, says:
“We knew business requirements well. However an actual challenge was to get to know how to adjust the tool in such a way that SAP CS functions would be used to maximum and to benefit from the natural integration potential of Amica’s SAP. This goal was achieved with the help of initial workshops preceding the bluepringphase and the intensive conceptual work itself”.
In addition to Amica service employees and BCC consultants, the undertaking required also the engagement of (IT and business) team from the service company cooperating with Amica International in Germany. SAP CS tool is integrated two applications used by this partner. Therefore it was necessary to make detailed arrangements regarding interfaces. This alignment impacted the time of solution development and building the final system architecture.
A substantial part of the project was devoted to the work on preparing and adjusting master data for the new solution. Due to a large volume of data, its im-pact on ongoing processes (materials) and necessary arrangements to be made with the service partner, it was necessary to plan a detailed scope of changes and adjustments to the existing systems, and to precisely map data between systems of both companies.
An interesting aspect of the project was the international cooperation. In most projects conducted by BCC abroad, English is the language used for com-munication. However, this time – for obvious reasons – the German language was chosen.
This language was also used by consultants conducting trainings for end users and preparing work instructions. However, the language used in communication with the local Amica team and InTeco was Polish.
BCC – Amica’s partner in SAP maintenance and development
The implementation of SAP CS is another stage of the long-term cooperation between the manufacturer of household appliances and BCC. BCC was the main provider of the SAP ERP implementation services in Amica. It also conducted numerous SAP development projects. Amica uses also SAP systems administration services provided by the BCC Outsourcing Center.
Customer service step-by-step
At present, the Amica International Customer Service Center operates in the following way. From 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. call center employees receive phone calls about defects. Already during conversation with an appliance user, they can perform early problem verification based on a ready list of typical problems available in the system.
Next, after carrying out a preliminary diagnosis of a defect and recording this information, it is sent via interface to one of the service partner‘s applications.
Additionally, during the same conversation the CS Amica solution connects to the service partner’s application, which delivers in response three potential dates for repair – to be chosen by a customer. After an operator has set a date of a technician’s visit convenient for the customer, service request is confirmed.
After the repair service has been performed, the in-formation (a defect type, spare parts consumed, replacement of subassemblies or appliances with new ones) provided by a service person is sent by the service company to Amica’s SAP system. The cost calculation obtained this way is a starting point for settlements between companies.
It is worth noticing that the solution implemented is used by two main groups of users: operators who use the German language version of the system on an everyday basis, and service coordinators as well as Amica’s executives.
While logging into the system in the Polish language, the latter group has access to the information about a current status of orders being processed and a status of settlement of accounts with a service partner.
Customer Service vs. Amica’s SAP
From the beginning, the foundation of the project was the integration of new processes handled by CS with already implemented system functions used on an everyday basis. The solution is fully integrated with Amica SAP ERP processes.
The CS module uses customer master data created in SD, where it is possible to assign a given service partner to a relevant partner role (e.g. a recipient, a payer). SAP SD functions are also used to handle sales of spare parts to service partners with credit control mechanisms.
Material numbers of parts and equipment are handled in the MM module. Here, also parts suggested for usage while repairing equipment are registered. In MM, components used in a given service order are also registered together with a quantity and a statistical value of a given spare part.
Incoming invoices (relating to the settlement of services provided by a service partner for Amica International) are handled in SAP FI. The data collected by service orders in controlling tools (CO) provides full information about costs relating to the provision of services with a complete breakdown into individual orders and groups of service costs.
Alicja Choły comments: “This is a key difference comparing to the previous model used before the SAP CS implementation when we didn’t have such detailed information about costs of services provided by our partners”.
Improved quality of information, lower repair costs
In recent years, Amica has been strengthening its position in export markets. In order to meet requirements, we decided to use uniform business tools and to consolidate IT solutions.
At the turn of the years 2008/2009, together with Amica’s management board, we decided to change an approach to customer services in the German market. The first phase of the project was aimed at estbalishing the Amica customer service center and implementing tools enabling the efficient communication between Amica and our partners. After requirement analysis and assessment SAP CS solution was chosen.
At present, we collect information directly from individual and commercial customers and register it in SAP CS through the call center. This allows us to become familiar with the expectations
of customers in the most demanding market in Europe in a shorter time. With such a precise feedback, we can tailor our products to Amica customers’ needs faster and better and thereby influence the improvement of quality and reduction of service costs.
The total effect of the solution implementation will be visible after the end of the year and continuous year-to-year comparison of data. However, I can already say that individual repair costs have decreased by 16% in comparison with the period preceding the implementation of new solution.
Amica Service Director
The solution prepared for Amica is in fact made up by two tools connected with each other. The first one is a CS platform in SAP that enables receiving and control of service requests. It is integrated with the SAP system. The second – equally important – part of the solution is a communication platform used to exchange information between CS and systems of a service partner.
The solution prepared by BCC was based on SAP Customer Service and Customer Interaction Center (CIC) tools available in SAP SD. CIC tools were used, among other things, to handle a mechanism of typical symptoms and problems. This mechanism is used for the initial analysis and verification of requests, and forms a basis for handling a request by a service technician (an appliance type and model, a probable cause of a defect, necessary spare parts, etc.). Importantly, the mechanism is universal and can be extended through feeding with data on new models of household appliances, symptoms, causes of defects, etc.
A universal communication “gateway” that is an equivalent part of the prepared system was built on the SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (PI) plat-form in its latest 7.1 version. The PI platform pro-vides many adapters enabling communication in all recognized standards. For purposes of Amica SAP CS project, file adapters and a service-oriented architecture (SOA) based on the Web Service technol-ogy were used.
The versatility of available technologies enabled the applications diversified (in terms of their nature and complexity) and used by the other business partners to be integrated with the PI platform. The applied standard of the Web Services description – WSDL – enabled “an agreement” to be efficiently built between systems and “plug-ins” to which applications that provide data to service processes in individual stages are connected. Interfaces have been built in such a way as to enable each repair stage to be recorded online in SAP and in external partner systems even in the case of a large number of messages.
The developed platform is flexible enabling cooperation with multiple service partners complying with a set communication and information exchange standard. This enables the optimization of service partner assignment to a particular service, depending, for instance, on a geographical region. It is also possible to assign repairs of a given appliance according to a particular technician’s specialization.
Getting closer to customers
At present (March 2010), all service requests from Germany are fulfilled through the Customer Service solution. This means over 3,000 requests per month handled by the Amica International call center.
CS enables Amica to get closer to its German customers and thereby better monitor the level of their satisfaction and quicker react to market needs. The information obtained through this solution enables activities to be rationalized, e.g. if a repair cost reaches 50% of the value of an appliance, the system does not accept repair costs but recommends replacing the appliance with a new one instead. Previously, such a decision belonged to a service company.
Amica has also gained the possibility to better control and monitor service costs down to the level of an individual request. Registration of all requests in CS will also enable the optimization of costs.
The universal communication platform enables the solution to be integrated with applications of many service providers, which paves the way to expanding the circle of service partners.
The SAP Customer Service solution is a universal tool for handling warranty and post-warranty requests. In the future, it can be used also in other countries in which Amica’s household appliances are enjoyed by customers.
Amica Wronki SA is the biggest manufacturer of household appliances in Poland. Amica is a manufacturer of free-standing gas, gas-electric, and electric cookers, built-in hobs and ovens. Commissioned in 1996, a modern refrigerator factory produces annually more than 400 thousand high-class fridges, fridge freezers and freezers of various types. In 2000 in Wronki, one of the most modern washing machine factories in Europe was opened. Amica’s product portfolio includes also dishwashers, cooker hoods and handy appliances: vacuum cleaners, irons, kettles and toasters. More than 50% of production is set for export.
More information: www.amica.pl