National Vending Serves Online Reports to Clients

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National Vending, a vending-machine service company, is trying to reduce customer turnover with a new Web site that provides clients with personalized reports on their business activities with the company.


Vending.com was in development for 16 months and debuted in late August. The site will be used to encourage loyalty among clients and to attract new customers, said Kevin Moss, CEO of National Vending, Rockville, MD.


Customer turnover tends be high in vending services, averaging 10 percent to 30 percent annually industrywide, Moss said. Yet the $37 billion industry has not readily embraced customer relationship management as a way to increase retention.


Vending-service companies do well at building their infrastructure, including equipment and route management, Moss said, but they do little in managing the "last mile" of service, or their direct relationships with customers. National Vending hopes to buck that trend with its investment in online CRM.


The company provides reports to clients about the amount of commissions their machines are making and the status of pending service requests. Now, instead of quarterly paper reports, clients can check the status of their operations in real time by clicking on their personal summary Web pages, to which they receive access after registering at vending.com.


Using their personal page, clients can change their list of vending-machine locations, request services and choose who receives the commissions they make on vending operations, such as themselves, family members or any charities that might be beneficiaries of their vending income.


The reports, which require a downloadable viewer for access, can be saved in any format for export into a client's database. National Vending also sends e-mails containing links to more detailed reports, including individual machine performance, to clients who register at vending.com.


"The ability to have real-time information at your fingertips at all times seems to be the direction we're going in this industry," Moss said.


National Vending is moving from handling inbound customer contacts by phone to online CRM. The company's call center hours, which were 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. when National Vending began operations in 1998, have been reduced to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Through the Web site, the company makes itself available to customers at any time of the day.


Vending.com also is being used to bring new business, through affinity marketing campaigns with business partners such as Affinity Marketing Consultants Inc.'s GreekLicensing.org, a site for the marketing of fraternity and sorority products.


Vending.com automatically qualifies leads it obtains by matching prospect information, which prospects give when they register, with demographic databases. Based on ZIP code and population information the company has about a prospect's location, the site flags certain customer contacts for more immediate follow-up by sales and service personnel.


The company's clients are businesses that need vending services at their properties and that use National Vending as a single source for refreshment and other vending services across North America. National Vending has more than 3,000 clients in the United States and Canada. They range from small businesses with one or two locations to large businesses with hundreds of locations such as United Rentals, Greenwich, CT, which operates more than 800 locations.


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