Tag Archives: customer service

Pelican Products, Inc. Improves Sales Order and Invoice Processing with Esker’s SaaS Solutions

Sydney, Australia — March 21, 2018 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with Pelican Products, Inc., a leader in the design and manufacturing of protective cases, temperature-controlled packaging solutions, portable lighting systems and rugged gear, to automate its order management and accounts payable (AP) processes. 

Pelican chose Esker’s Order Processing and Accounts Payable automation solutions to streamline its processes, fill gaps in productivity, provide higher levels of visibility and allow for scalability within its business. Thanks to SAP-certified integration, orders and invoices are now electronically processed with machine-learning technology and automatically entered into the system.

Optimised order processing

Prior to using Esker, it took Pelican’s Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) up to thirty minutes to enter large, complex sales orders into the company’s SAP® system. Today, Pelican is processing fax, email and electronic data interchange (EDI) orders significantly faster, with order entry cycle times below 5 minutes which is a reduction of more than 80 percent.

“Esker gave us the most bang for the buck,” said Paul Sohn, director of business Applications at Pelican. “It provides a greater level of visibility over both the number of orders in the queue, as well as those entered into SAP. Our goal is same-day order entry, which Esker helps us achieve on a consistent basis.”

EDI order integration

With Esker’s solution, CSRs are now able to process EDI orders in the same workflow as fax and email orders — even those containing exceptions — without needing the IT department to correct issues. Delays due to EDI exceptions previously resulted in financial penalties for late shipments and reduced productivity for IT staff being pulled away to help fix errors. Pelican now benefits from streamlined processing of EDI orders, reducing processing time from what used to be days to just minutes.

Since implementing Esker, Pelican has been able to:

  • Reduce order entry time by more than 80 percent; from 30 minutes for complex orders to about five minutes
  • Maintain headcount; managing growing order volumes without adding staff
  • Accelerate delivery time; getting orders entered up to one day sooner to avoid late delivery fees
  • Improve visibility; custom dashboards and reports allow for 100 percent visibility on every order
  • Streamline order processing; all orders, even EDI, are routed through one shared workflow

Streamlined accounts payable

Like order management, Pelican’s previous AP invoicing process was also hampered by manual touch points. Slow processing times and lack of accountability over authorisations were two of the primary issues the company aimed to resolve. With Esker’s Accounts Payable solution, Pelican now has a more structured and transparent process for the accounting staff and management. This centralisation has allowed Pelican to respond to vendors more quickly and reduce the occurrence of late payments. Instead of searching through email or paper copies for invoices, they are now easily found in Esker’s solution.

“We can accrue invoices entered into Esker and see what’s been approved and what’s still pending,” explained Sohn. “The visibility it has brought to AP has made approvals easier and payments faster. It’s expedited the entire process — a major time-savings tool.”

About Pelican Products, Inc.

Pelican Products, Inc. is the global leader in the design and manufacture of high-performance protective cases, temperature controlled packaging solutions, advanced portable lighting systems and rugged gear for professionals and outdoor enthusiasts. Its products are used by professionals in the most demanding markets including fire/safety, law enforcement, defense/military, aerospace, entertainment, industrial and consumer. The company operates in 21 countries, with 22 international sales offices and six manufacturing facilities around the globe. In Europe, the company does business under the name Peli Products, S.L.U.


Center of Gravity

Recently, I came across an excellent blog from one of our partners, Intelestream. The post was about  Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and some things to consider when implementing a CRM solution. Something that really jumped out to me was what Intelestream referred to as the “Center of Gravity.” By this, they mean that in every business environment the workflow will revolve around two or three key pieces of software that have a huge impact on the business.

Where this can become a problem for a company is if the software being used is the wrong tool for the job. What can make it worse is that the longer employees have been using any software, the more resistant they are trying something new. This is true even if the new software solution is specifically designed for their business process and has obvious advantages. Changing the Center of Gravity within a department is not easy but it is an important consideration when looking to implement any new software application and ultimately improve how a department does business.

Here is an example. Many companies use Outlook for their email. This is a very effective tool for communicating, however, it is not always the right tool for the job. I have seen a number of companies that use a shared inbox to receive and manage orders that their customers send to them via email. Outlook is great but it was never designed to be a queue for processing incoming orders. There are limitations when you have the wrong tool as your department’s center of gravity. In this example, the critical information is on an attachment. It is not easy to search of a specific attachment or priorities orders. You may see hundreds of emails but how many are orders? How many customers asking for express shipping? Besides the limitations with any tool that is not designed for this specific business process, you also have limitations and the communication with other applications or interoperability. To learn more, check out the blog: 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Manage Your Business Process via Email.

If you are looking to improve operations within your company ask a department what is their Center of Gravity. Then ask yourself is that the right tool for the job? Consider what this department could accomplish if they had the proper tools for the job.

Are You Losing the Potential Energy From Your Customer Orders?

A strategy of continuous improvement in the supply chain is necessary in order to maintain competitiveness in the world of med-device and hi-tech manufacturing. These specialized industries have highly experienced and educated customer service and inside sales staff that, often times, spend too much time trying to manage customer orders. What if, instead of expending energy on managing these orders, you could collect the order data and let that energy work for your organization?

Most of the organizations I work with are receiving some combination of orders via EDI, fax, central orders email box and phone. And then there are the orders coming from e-commerce sites, customer portals, and EDI transactions that are rejected by their ERPs. Sales guy Bob struggles with control issues, so his customers send their orders directly to his email box, not the general order box. All of a sudden, the omni-channel customer ordering experience becomes less of a way to help your customers and more of a risk for orders to be misplaced, accidentally deleted, and slow to enter the supply chain.

Med-device and high-tech manufacturers have the added complexity of an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions. Say a site in Pennsylvania is running SAP, that one in Washington is running Oracle, and the site in Houston is running AS400. Not only are orders coming in through multiple channels, they are routed to different ERPs. With order information spread out across an organization, it is extremely difficult for operations, treasury, supply chain, and executive leadership to have access to accurate organizational reporting. Manual reporting is rarely accurate reporting, and the results of demand planning based on it can be disastrous.

Forward-thinking organizations are investing in a singular platform for all orders, regardless of the way their customers find it easiest to send orders and to which ERP those orders are heading. With advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computing power, Esker is helping those organizations mine data from orders and provide visibility into orders as soon as they arrive. No more mishandled orders, inaccurate reporting, or surprise trends. Bonus kicker? The reporting power is in the hands of the users. No more submitting an IT ticket requesting someone else to magically dig information out of your ERP on their timeline.

With the omni-channel growing in complexity, it is important to have control and visibility into all customer orders to balance and accelerate the customer-centric supply chain cycle. Automating processes is the goal for many med-device and hi-tech manufacturers, but to what end? You can build a business case based on efficiency gains, but a complete order management platform touches so many other aspects of the supply chain. The ability to handle demand spikes and sudden rises in order volume, increased employee morale (leading to a better customer experience), a reduction in order-entry errors entering the supply chain, and a significant improvement in the cost to serve are just a handful of the realizations organizations experience when truly harnessing the power of their inbound orders.

How Listening to Bob Dylan Might Just Make Your Business More Agile

As you may have heard, Bob Dylan recently received a Nobel Prize in Literature for, as the Nobel Committee put it, “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

He is the first musician to ever receive the prestigious honor.

Predictably, the news ignited a firestorm of response. Dylan enthusiasts, who have long maintained that his lyrics have transcendent artistic value, were tickled by the recognition. Many literary purists, on the other hand, were borderline outraged that a songwriter had infringed on the hallowed territory of poets and novelists.

As a diehard Dylan-ite since my early 20s, I have my own thoughts on the matter … but that’s a discussion for another time.

What the announcement of the Nobel Prize really got me thinking about was the enduring nature of Dylan the artist; specifically, something he once said about being successful, and how, in my opinion, a lot of today’s businesses would be better off if they took the old troubadour’s advice.

Embracing a “State of Becoming”

Those who get Dylan never really give him up. I can personally attest to this. And one of the biggest reasons he has such a devoted fan base is his seemingly endless capacity to recreate himself. From protest singer and electric bard to Nashville crooner and ethereal love lyricist — every version of Dylan is the same yet, somehow, entirely original.

And so it goes with Bob … always one step ahead, demanding that his audiences catch up with him and not the other way around. It’s no wonder he’s still going strong — gravelly voice and all — after all these years.

This brings me back to the quote I mentioned previously. In the 2005 Martin Scorsese-directed documentary No Direction Home, Dylan laid out the philosophy behind his elusive nature (emphasis mine):

“An artist has to be careful never to really arrive at a place where he thinks he’s at somewhere. You always have to realize that you’re constantly in a state of becoming, and as long as you’re in that realm, you’ll sort of be alright.”

It could be argued he said essentially the same thing 40 years earlier, albeit more succinctly and inauspiciously, in his song “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” when he sang, “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

Ok, so maybe success in the business world isn’t quite equitable to success as an artist. Still, it raises an important question: How many of today’s businesses, because of their past or present successes, feel as though they arrived somewhere — to a kind of real or imagined destination that they merely work to sustain rather push beyond?

It’s the Way We’ve Always Done Things

In Esker’s realm of document process automation, over and over again we encounter businesses that are reluctant to adopt new technology because they see their current processes — despite their obvious flaws — as being somehow tied to their identity. It’s the way we’ve always done things.

That’s not to say resistance to change is necessarily a bad thing. Changing solely for the sake of change is not in anyone’s best interest, and there are certainly legitimate variables that prevent change from occurring (e.g., bad timing, limited budget, etc.).

But where Dylan’s advice can really work its magic is within components of document processes that normally are considered inconsequential or too essential to a company’s identity to change in any way.

For example, a lot of companies take great pride in the personal touch of their customer service. A recent TermSync study found that over 80 percent of distributors believed their quality of customer service differentiated them from the competition; yet, only 30% of them offer their customers a self-service online portal (something 3 in 4 customers actually prefer).

Just think of all the value and opportunities within customer service that companies have lost due to not embracing a “state of becoming.”

Another example of this is in order processing, where many companies have EDI systems as part of their infrastructure. The problem is, exceptions — which can affect up to 35% of incoming EDI orders — can cause a lot of serious workflow issues. Still, a lot of business professionals feel as though EDI is the end-all-be-all and wind up missing out on the benefits that automation can bring, such as reducing EDI processing time by an average of four days versus when manual intervention exists in an EDI environment.

Fostering an efficient, agile business has never been more important than it is today. Yes, change can be a scary thing, but it’s always better to be proactive than reactive. As Dylan once sang, “May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift.” Indeed, Bob.

Document process automation has been that foundation for thousands of companies — not only as a solution to address short-term problems, but as a driving force behind long-term business improvement strategies.

How the Life Science Industry is Changing


I was recently reading up on President Trumps proposed taxpayer budget, wondering “What will it mean for patients, hospitals and numerous other life science customers that Esker serves?” Regardless of one’s political leaning, most supply chain leaders tend to agree that healthcare costs continue to rise.

After a recent conversation with analyst firm Gartner, I took away that hospitals are facing increased demand, higher costs and there is a definite expectation that Medicare funding will be reduced. There is a new culture where hospitals must consistently improve patient outcomes, their education of doctors, and lower overall hospital costs.

Life science providers can anticipate more demand for their products as medical professionals become more comfortable with medical devices and joint replacements. A good friend of mine who is a retired airline captain, tennis player and ski instructor jokes about a hip replacement procedure being required at one point in the future as it means he will be able to maintain a lifestyle close to what he has enjoyed so far. Who doesn’t want to play tennis or coach their grandkids to play ball? I recall an HBR publication that highlighted many babies born today have an excellent chance of becoming centenarians assuming a healthy lifestyle and access to best in class care and life science applications later on.

The life science providers are combining processes and technology that allow them to lower production costs, improve overall quality and get products to the hospital faster. These manufacturers are likely to be doing more business with the hospitals via direct channels in the future. To meet the increased demand and price pressures they will have to be able to handle a significantly greater scale of customers placing orders directly.

Supply chain leaders are aware that customer experience will dominate purchase decisions within the next three years. For that reason, we find ourselves talking with supply chain leaders as they look to embrace machine learning that will help cut out errors, boost staff productivity and enhance the overall supply chain experience as the supply chain tends to have more touchpoints with customers than the sales team.

There is an incorrect perception that these efficiency goals can only be achieved if every order flows through without any touches. Life science leaders including Alere and Biomerieux focused on reducing the number of touches needed by combining people, process and technology to great effect. Bayer lowered order management time from 7 mins to 58 seconds. Alere cut nearly four minutes and lowered the number of touches from 17 to 2.4.

Regardless of who is in charge in Washington D.C,  the population will rely more on life science. Those providers are going to be busier and, for most, technology is going to allow them to keep up.

Esker Announces Partnership with Optima ECM Consulting to Expand Revenue Opportunities and Accelerate Delivery of Cloud Solutions

Alliance is designed to accommodate Esker’s growth while enhancing solutions offered by Optima

Sydney, Australia — January 9, 2018Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, announced today its partnership with Optima, a global implementation organisation. The relationship is aimed to benefit the customers of both companies by providing a more holistic set of offerings that complement the evolving nature of digital transformation. 

Esker’s exponential revenue growth and increased consumer demand for cloud-based solutions is predicted to continue into 2018. In order to accommodate such rapid growth while maintaining excellent customer service, Esker entered into a partnership with Optima to help create efficiencies and better implement its solutions.

“As the demand for our solutions grows, we continue to look toward trusted partners to help us scale while identifying new revenue opportunities,” said Steve Smith, U.S. chief operating officer at Esker. “Because Optima has a reputation for unparalleled expertise in purchase-to-pay (P2P) and order-to-cash (O2C), it was a natural fit for us.”

Optima turned to Esker to help capture the mid-size market and to expand its business service capabilities to include a cloud solution.
“Esker is a known entity in the cloud space with a superb reputation for integrity and excellent customer service,” said Alex Nadesan, founding partner and chief operations officer of Optima. “Our customers are looking to the cloud and, in Esker, we know we have found the technological and cultural fit we were searching for.”

Now that the two brands have forged a synergistic partnership, they will begin offering integrated solutions to current and future customers in 2018.

About Optima EDM Consulting

Optima ECM Consulting is a global implementation organisation that specialises in the strategy, design and implementation of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) solutions for Compliance, Optimisation, Revenue Enhancement and Collaboration. Optima’s unparalleled experience in strategy, design, implementation and management of EIM solutions such as Purchase to Pay, Sales Order Management, and Enterprise Content Management solutions enables companies to achieve both their strategic and business objectives as they look to execute their digital transformation. With more than 60 consultants and offices in USA, Mexico and Spain, Optima is uniquely suited to ensure businesses rapidly recognise expected ROI and drive immediate value across their organisation. For more information on Optima and its solutions, visit www.optimaecm.com.

What a Year – 2017 Was a Huge Success!

What a year! 2017 has been a huge success, and it’s all due to Esker customers like you. Here’s how we’re wrapping up the year:

Transitioning from Transactional Order Entry to Relational Customer Experience


Gartner predicted that by 2016, 89% of companies planned to compete primarily based on customer experience. In the past three weeks I’ve been on the road meeting customers across all different industries and they all have taken this to heart.

It is no longer sufficient to compete on price and product alone. So there is a lot of emphasis on transitioning customer service from transactional order entry to an informed experience that generates new revenue streams. Oracle has noted that 74% of executives believe great customer experience impacts loyalty, and American Express found that 60% of customers are willing to pay for a better experience.

What’s impressive is the simple steps that our customers have taken and their results. They can cut order entry from 9 minutes to 2 minutes, which frees up their customer service representatives (CSRs) allowing them to spend more time talking to their customers.

Typically, sales teams are expected to build relationships and drive sales, but a chemical company I visited explained that CSRs are their secret salesperson. CSRs are not seen as sales, yet the customer trusts them as a seller since they work with them on a regular basis. The chemical company explained that freeing up CSRs to build relationships and allowing them to travel to meet customers has generated additional revenue. In some cases, their customers even noted on their order that they’re buying more because of the phenomenal service they received.

I’ve met CSRs that hold Master’s degrees and even a Ph.D. There are smart folks in customer service who are unable to put their analytical problem-solving skills to work because they have to hit their line entry quota. When given more time and the right technology they can do things like:

  • Always call the customer when there is an issue with ship date, quantity etc.
  • Educate customers who continue to issue wrong part codes, descriptions, obsolete products
  • Track all field changes and determine if an issue is related to the customer or internal master data
  • Move into coaching and supervising new hires and CSRs creating errors
  • Transition into other departments such as IT, logistics and inside sales

Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Empire, is famous for saying “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”  Happy, engaged employees will always go the extra mile to serve and delight the customer. What I saw over the last three weeks was our customers giving their CSRs the ability to that.

What would it be worth to your company if you could unleash the full potential of your CSRs?

PepsiCo selects Esker to Enhance its Order Processing and Better Serve its Cutomers

Sydney, Australia — October 9, 2017Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions, and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with PepsiCo in the UK, the British subsidiary of the world leading food and beverage company, to automate its order processing

PepsiCo has a portfolio that includes 22 brands that each generate more than $1 billion in estimated annual retail sales. PepsiCo maintains its world-leading status by being at the forefront of innovative practices and adopting the latest ways to continually improve its business. With this in mind, a project was devised to improve the way certain customer orders were being processed to eliminate any non-value added tasks and reduce the risk of manual keying errors.

The challenge that was identified showed that smaller independent traders who placed frequent orders, could not be set up with EDI, due to the complexity, time and resources required. Therefore, a much simpler but just as efficient process was required. PepsiCo selected Esker to achieve this with Esker’s order processing automation solution.

Simplify the process and free up customer services

The first plan of action was to assess the current order process and simplify how orders were being received, how the information was being captured and finally, how orders were then approved. PepsiCo wanted to offer its customers the simplest way to place their orders whilst considering some of the bespoke customer requirements of their own individual choosing.

Secondly, PepsiCo wished to free up its customer services representatives (CSR) from non-value added tasks such as the data entry from orders, so that they would devote more time to serving the needs of their customers.

Fully automated order processing

PepsiCo uses Esker’s on demand solution to first receive the customer orders in any file format (e.g. fax, email, EDI) which are then automatically routed to the correct CSR Team based on product categories contained within the order.

Next the relevant data is extracted automatically through an intelligent recognition tool to create the corresponding sales order in their ERP system without the need for any manual input. This means that the CSRs can simply verify that the data has been correctly extracted or adjust any missing elements.
If any exceptions occur or approvals are required then the order is automatically placed into a workflow to be actioned. Once approved the order is electronically archived with easy access made available to any authorised user.

“Currently PepsiCo manages approximately 4,000 orders per month (outside those received through EDI) and over 90% of these can now be processed without any human intervention at all,” commented Tom Durance, Customer Order and Strategy Manager, PepsiCo.

“The benefits we have already gained have been; increased data accuracy rates, faster order processing speeds and improved customer service productivity leading to better customer satisfaction rates. Also this would allow us to obtain 100% visibility of order/issue management via a full audit trail and KPI dashboards for monitoring and reporting,” added Durance.

Esker UK’s Managing Director, Alistair Nicholas said, “We are delighted to be working with PepsiCo and have been very pleased that the project has been a success so far both in terms of the benefits achieved and the timescales that were requested. We look forward to continuing this success to other PepsiCo subsidiaries in the future”.

Future outlook

Looking forward towards future projects, the solution now in place could be rolled out easily to other PepsiCo subsidiaries around the world using the same automated process. Also using Esker’s agile development methodology allowed a quick project delivery in less than 3 months.

About PepsiCo

PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $63 billion in net revenue in 2015, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

At the heart of PepsiCo is Performance with Purpose – their goal to deliver top-tier financial performance while creating sustainable growth and shareholder value. In practice, Performance with Purpose means providing a wide range of foods and beverages from treats to healthy eats; finding innovative ways to minimise their impact on the environment and reduce their operating costs; providing a safe and inclusive workplace for their employees globally; and respecting, supporting and investing in the local communities where they operate. For more information, visit www.pepsico.com



10 Eye-Opening Quotes About the Importance of Customer Service

Customer service is a tough, but important, gig. In a NewVoiceMedia survey, 49% of respondents said they have switched to a different business as a result of poor customer service.

Every year, poor customer service costs businesses billions of dollars. In 2016, they lost a total of $62 billion to be exact. Customer service is extremely important, and these quotes help to explain why.

10 Eye-Opening Customer Service Quotes

  1. Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.
    Chip Bell
  1. In the world of Internet customer service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.
    Doug Warner
  1. Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
    Mother Teresa
  1. Customer service represents the heart of a brand in the hearts of its customers.
    Kate Nasser
  1. Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.
    Dale Carnegie
  1. Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.
    Tony Hsieh
  1. There is a big difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer. Never settle for ‘satisfied’.
    Shep Hyken
  1. It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.
    Henry Ford
  1. Although your customers won’t love you if you give bad service, your competitors will.
    Kate Zabriskie
  1. Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking advertisement.
    James Cash Penney