Perfect customer service in healthcare
BY STEFFEN RAMSAIER
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 1 2016)
Central management of product information in a digital catalogue and its deployment through all channels will allow for increased revenue and considerably fewer costs in data administration. Health service provider PartsSource shows how.
Don’t let the name deceive you: Technical medical spare parts may be the main business of PartSource, with innovative technologies and workflow solutions it has also revolutionised the procurement process itself. With an annual revenue of over 100 million dollars, the company is leading in the field of parts solutions in healthcare. Running a shop for over 82,000 customers is, however, connected with some specific challanges. The customer service centre used to be the company’s primary distribution channel; business was done over the phone. According to Brian Thomas, Director of Application Development with PartsSource, a change was needed. “Our goal was to be the first company in our field to introduce a comprehensive e-commerce catalogue which would include all producers of medical appliances. One which would allow us to offer complex and channel-independent product information and faster customer service.”
The sheer volume of product data did not make the challenge for the health service provider any easier. Over 260,000 stock units were distributed across multiple systems. “Until recently what we worked with were in-house developed management tools, photos and models, category allocation and Excel. However, all tools having great product relevance were not synchronized,” said Thomas. Still that has not been the only difficulty. Without substantial new investments, PartsSource lacked the resources needed to manage the rapidly growing product data portfolio on different systems. “We selected employees from other departments to join the team, who then helped us to both upgrade existing products and to adopt new ones,” says Thomas. For example to update a thousand products a team of seven employees would work two hours. Product data were managed by different departments and only ‘if necessary’. Access Control or defined processes did not exist. Scaling was only possible through the recruitment of new staff - and that was expensive.
With a Product Information Management solution (PIM) of the next generation, the potential of product data within a company can be fully exploited. Informatica MDM - Product 360 offers a high-quality and reliable view of the entire product portfolio of 3.5 million medical spare parts and their respective product relationships. The same central view is also available on channels where PartSource customers can do transactions online, on the phone or by app. Currently the system supports more than 300,000 transactions per year and is used by more than 3,300 acute care clinics and over 2,400 facilities in other medical fields. This is the industry’s first digital catalogue, which covers several original equipment manufacturers (OEM), modalities and conditions. Thomas comments: “We now have the ability to manage many different product data attributes. For every product and each supplier we can detect hundreds. Each data element provided to us by our partners about product availability, we are able to capture, organize and present to our customers in an elegant manner.”
Informatica MDM – Product 360 has changed business processes fundamentally. The company was able to reduce the team which updated product information from seven to two employees. This duo can now also transmit huge amounts of data within minutes. And that's just the beginning. It is also capable of reducing the time for updating existing products and introducing new ones by a factor of 60.
Of course, the operating result is ultimately decisive. Thomas: “Our company has achieved double-digit growth. Increased sales in parts and the ordering process sped up whereas automation lowered distribution costs. By offering an online catalogue, our customers can search for the required products and order directly. The more we can process here, the lower the distribution costs will be.”
Revenue growth is enhanced by the an improved customer service. The primary distribution channel is now serving the new e-commerce site. Here, customers can use a customer service call centre (usually for larger orders) and a mobile marketplace for their transactions, both supported by Product 360. In addition to product information about parts, PartSource also files additional data such as product warranties, service and repair data. They are all available with other product data that come together in one central place.
Ultimately, employees are also more satisfied. Those who worked in data management previously, can now devote themselves to other tasks. They may take up a passion such as photography and start portraying a client’s product portfolio. It’s a triple-win situation for all involved: staff having fun with their tasks, partners acquiring more professional product shots and customers who are presented with more visual details. “When we saw the Informatica solution, we immediately knew it to be the right choice,” says Thomas. “Made for our needs and offering exciting possibilities for the optimisation of our product management. The contractor of our choice became Ideosity, a decision which proved inspiring. “The company is an expert in complex product paradigms like ours, having a large supplier base and primarily a distribution model”, says Thomas who also noted success in .NET-based development of enterprise applications.
“We got what we had strived for so long and made that defining quantum leap in sales, service and efficiency,” says Thomas. “The central source of product information in a digital catalogue has not only optimised updates and the product introductions but has made PartsSouce’s marketplace the standard in our industry.”
Informatica is one of the world-leading independent suppliers of data management software. Over 5,800 companies around the world rely on Informatica to develop the potential of their information and thereby gain competitive advantage.
Picture credits © Stuart Kinlough/Getty Images