Last week, we spoke with Tracy Buhrman and Krystle Krebs at RG Group about their experience with Esker and the things they’ve learned since implementing an order processing automation solution.
As the Director of Customer Experience for RG Group, Tracy was part of a larger team searching for a solution to better automate the ordering process. Customer Service Supervisor, Krystle, spearheaded the processes of finding a solution and implementing Esker. Here’s Part 1 of our conversation. Note: This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Esker: Thank you both for taking the time to talk to us, especially in the middle of your busy schedule. Could you start off by telling me a little bit more about RG Group?
Tracy: RG Group is a $53 million company in the motion control and fluid power industry. We have eight retail stores spread throughout the Mid- Atlantic region and a main distribution center in York, PA. We have some satellite offices as well.
We have a pretty broad product and service offering along with e-commerce. Our product mix is very broad and deep because we represent hundreds of brands. Our customer mix is just as broad and deep due to the markets we serve.
Esker: Got it. If you could take us back to the beginning before you implemented Esker, what kind of challenges were you facing that caused you to look for an automation solution?
Krystle: Mostly the volume of the lines that we key and cutting down as much as we could on any type of key stroke errors, specifically because all of our part numbers are very close — one wrong number here or there could really change an order. I think the biggest thing was automating so that we could gain more efficiencies as we grow.
Esker: Does your company grow pretty rapidly?
Tracy: Yes. We try to do an acquisition every 18-24 months as part of our growth strategy. So we’re buying companies a lot. The fact that we do a lot of acquisitions means we’re constantly taking on new customers which is an immediate acceleration of transactions. Any acquisition can add a substantial amount of new order lines getting processed every day in an instant, and it’s kind of an overnight thing. Esker was a great solution for us because we could immediately start running those new customer orders through the system without a big learning curve and without adding a ton of staff. It’s very scalable which is exactly what we were looking for in a solution.
Esker: Can you describe your manual process before Esker when you were dealing with all the acquisitions and higher order volume?
Tracy: I’ve been here about nine years, and up until about four years ago, whenever we’d do an acquisition, we would just work a lot to key in orders and just do it manually. Then we started going down the path of wanting to automate. We actually partnered with another company that offered a solution similar to Esker’s, but it wasn’t quite as broad. Their solution was geared toward the 80/20 rule, meaning it really worked best for businesses with a bunch of customers that ordered a lot of product regularly. Our business has those customers but we also have a lot of customers that don’t order very often and that is where the churn was for us.
Esker was so much easier because we could run anything through and it read it, mapped it, and machine-learned it. We didn’t have to do any proactive work that delayed order entry. We could enter it immediately and use Esker right away.
Esker: How did you end up choosing Esker then? Were there certain features or characteristics that particularly appealed to you?
Krystle: One thing that stood out to me was the fact that it was customizable to be what we actually needed it to be. Our implementation team pretty much took what our thoughts and current processes were and molded a solution into what would work best for our business. They really understood what we were looking for, and it’s very tailored to our day to day which is awesome.
Tracy: It was also really important to us that we didn’t have to pay crazy money for customization. We wanted something where the out-of-the-box solution was 70 or 80% there, and we were willing to change our process to fit the solution. With the areas that we weren’t willing to change, the solution needed to change to fit us.
Esker: So you decided on Esker and are working with our team to figure out what customizations to add and how to move forward. What was your implementation experience like?
Tracy: It was great. We were really pleased with the Esker platform in general and how the team worked with us. We knew that if there was something that was a little “pie in the sky”, they were able to do just about anything that we’ve asked.
Chris (the sales rep) did a really good job explaining what the capabilities were. We could tell that Esker was going to help us have a successful integration, and we had a fantastic implementation team. We do a ton of integration with other partners for a gazillion different things in our business — we have a joke internally that it’s like Frankenstein — and we talk all the time about how seamless the experience with Esker was.
It was clear you guys were experts in your field. You had a variety of experiences to bring to the table to help us through this world of automation that we didn’t know very much about. We could tell that your organization really had the bandwidth and experience to take us where we hadn’t been before.
I honestly cannot say enough about your team. The agile approach was fantastic. It kept us on track and helped us define what we were really looking for, not what we thought we needed. It just really forced us to think outside of the box, and it was so collaborative.
Check out Part 2 where we talk about where Esker fits into RG Group’s broader customer experience strategy, and how automating order entry has changed the way the company thinks about all parts of its business.