Toro Integrates Customer Contacts

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The Toro Co., a lawn-care products provider, dealt with increased rates of customer contacts this spring and summer by implementing an integrated customer relationship management system.

Toro picked Gage Customer Service, an outsourced customer-care provider, and Astute Solutions, a CRM technology firm, to consolidate its inbound contacts into one platform. The company is also using Astute's call center contact system, installed on Gage's equipment, to keep records of customer contacts from all channels on a single database.

By outsourcing its customer service, Toro is better able to deal with seasonal peak periods during months of warmer weather when lawns grow and people buy and use the company's products. When customers contact Toro about product problems, their complaints are logged into a single system, whether they contacted by phone, fax, e-mail or traditional mail.

With a broad view of the information customers give them, Toro customer service managers can then spot trends and analyze whether individual complaints are part of larger problems.

They can also set a "threshold" level for specific types of complaints. After the number of complaints received by the system exceeds the level set by the customer service managers, the system automatically sends out an e-mail to assigned personnel informing them of the situation.

The Astute system took approximately one month to install and went live in April. The software is mostly standardized and generally takes less time to implement than customizable systems, said Nancy Bohman, director of marketing and communications at Astute.

The system is accessible to both Toro and Gage and provides information updated in real time. In addition to providing a database system, Astute provided skills-based routing, a system that directs incoming customer contacts to the customer service representatives best suited for the job, for Gage's contact center.

Toro, Bloomington, MN, is a $1.3 billion company with approximately 4,700 employees. Gage Customer Service, Minneapolis, operates four contact centers in North America and has a total of 650 workstations.

Astute, Columbus, OH, services large business-to-consumer companies. Its client list has included McDonald's, Michelin, Levi Strauss & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline.

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