Crown Worldwide Moving & Storage is one of the industry's leading full-service movers with more than 900 Agents in 125 countries. From their corporate office in California USA, Crown manages every aspect of their customers' move, from surveying, packing and loading, to warehousing, delivery, unpacking, set-up and assembly. Crown has implemented a LANSA based tracking system that allows corporate customers and the individuals that are moving to follow the exact progress of their relocation. Up-to-date status information available 24 hours-a-day has significantly improved customer service, especially for Crown's overseas customers.
Crown deals mostly with corporate customers. Some of their orders may involve the relocation of a single person, while other orders could involve moving a whole division and its people from one country to another. International and interstate relocations can be complex with several parties involved. Crown customer service staff coordinate packers, truckers, port agencies, airlines and shipping container companies to make sure that each step of the relocation moves smoothly from one party to another.
Bruce Baxter, President of Independents Inc., the IT service provider to which Crown has outsourced its IT support needs since 1992, explains that Crown customers want to be kept up-to-date about the progress of their relocations. "They may inquire about the status of a specific step in the process."
"We have taken a huge step beyond the moving companies that don't offer real time inquiry."
"For example, whether their goods have already arrived at a certain port and what date the goods are planned to go through customs."
"It became very time consuming for both the customer and staff to give a status update via the phone or fax. And the fax and phone introduced inaccuracies and sometimes misunderstandings."
"At the same time sales staff were put under increasing pressure by prospective customers to offer an online order status inquiry facility. We felt we were losing some bids."
We have taken a huge step beyond the moving companies that don't offer real time inquiry
Baxter explains, "Crown's core applications run on an AS/400 and for optimum integration we wanted the order inquiry Web site to be on the AS/400 as well. I did have experience with LANSA because our in-house developed accounting modules are written in it. I knew LANSA offered Web development, so when this Web project came along, I decided to investigate LANSA for the Web first."
"In June 1999 I went to the LANSA User Conference and sat in on a number of the Web sessions. I came back with enough information to feel comfortable recommending it to Crown. A big plus is that we could leverage our AS/400 and LANSA skills and easily integrate our existing AS/400 core system."
"We first prototyped the functionality in green-screen mode to demonstrate to our sales force and get their feedback. Once we got an agreement on what the substance was going to be, we Webified' it and put on some logos. The green-screen prototype used a procedural flow, but while working with LANSA for the Web I got acquainted with the event driven paradigm. I could essentially move some of the function code around and then use LANSA Web events. I didn't have to write any new code."
"So now we have a true event driven solution, with back button and other advanced Web capabilities. We are really happy with it."
"Development began in June, soon after the LANSA User Conference and the application went live in August, just seven weeks after the project started."
"Our customer service representatives are excited. The Web order status inquiry attracts new customers and our existing customers are very happy with this new efficient service. We have taken a huge step beyond the moving companies that don't offer real time inquiry."
"Customers can now see any status updates of a relocation immediately and in their own time. We don't have any time zone issues and customers don't have to wait on the phone or for someone to get back to them by fax."
"An individual simply enters the order number and the first five characters of the shippers last name to see the details of the household goods we are moving for them. For the corporate customers we issue a user-ID and a PIN so they see all their orders and can drill down to a specific order."
"Sales representatives administer the user-ids and pins for their corporate customers. When a PIN is lost, the corporate customer contacts their sales rep to issue a new one. This not only gives the sales rep another customer service opportunity; it also moves the user-ID administration out of IT.
"Corporate customers can also request a quote or price estimate by filling in a Web questionnaire. We already have a quote system with tariff files on our AS/400 and all we had to do was front end it with LANSA for the Web."
"The LANSA 4GL takes care of all the grunt work programming for you. The LANSA development process, creating a prototype and evolving it to the final Web code, is between five to ten times faster than a 3GL solution. There are many little tedious things that I don't have to think about anymore, like finding an available indicator to reverse image a field in error. Testing is also easier, since there is less new code to test. It has now become painful for me to go back and maintain RPG programs."
The LANSA 4GL takes care of all the grunt work programming for you and is between five to ten times faster than a 3GL solution
"Right now we are working on giving our corporate customers Web-based query and reporting, but many of the calls our customer service staff receive or initiate are with the entities that carry out the actual relocation. We do have an EDI solution in place, but most of companies we do business with are not large enough to justify an expensive EDI solution."
"LANSA lowers the costs of eBusiness with our vendors and at a later stage we may let these truckers, airlines, port agencies and other parties update the status of their tasks themselves. Now that we have the framework in place that should only be a short step."
"The best advice I can give to other AS/400 shops embarking on eBusiness is to contract with a specialist to help set up the infrastructure. To develop a Web application with a tool like LANSA is not difficult, but there is a long list of other tasks, such as contact with an ISP, the routers, firewalls, Web and email servers, encryption and digital certificates, that are better left to specialists."
"Development began in June and the application went live in August, just seven weeks after the project started."
Company and System Information
- Crown Worldwide Moving & Storage is one of the industry's leading full-service movers with more than 900 Agents in 125 countries. From their corporate office in California, Crown manages every aspect of their customers' move, from surveying, packing and loading, to warehousing, delivery, unpacking, set-up and assembly. Crown processes about 35,000 orders every year. Last year revenues were $32 million.
- Crown has a model 500 for production systems and purchased a new P170 as email and Web server. Crown uses IBM® Web server and native Domino for email. The Firewall is from Checkpoint Software. An average 85 internal people use the production model 500, of which 40 are from customer service.
- For more information visit: www.crownwms.com
- Crown outsources all of its IT service needs to Independents Inc.