Customer service is a top priority for Trek Bicycle, a leading manufacturer and distributor of bicycles and cycling products. Trek prides itself on offering the best lifetime warranty in the business, so when its dealers asked for a better way to handle repair claims, the company listened. It developed a new mobile app, based on the Oracle Cloud Platform, that makes the process a smoother ride for all involved.
The new app replaces a system that’s been in use for the past 15 years or so, says Tom Spoke, global ERP director for the Waterloo, Wisc.-based company. When cyclists damage a bike in a crash or need a repair or parts, they turn to one of Trek’s 10,000 independent dealers, which operate in 90 countries.
The dealer logs on to the Trek B2B site on a computer and enters the bike’s serial number, parts numbers, customer details and more. He uses a camera or smartphone to take a photo of the bike, the failed component or proof of purchase, and then transfers those images to the computer to upload them to Trek.
“It takes too long,” Spoke says. “Over the past 18 months, our dealers have been asking for a better way to connect with us on business processes, specifically repairs. They told us, ‘There’s gotta be a better way.’ “
Trek agreed. Last year it started exploring ways to expedite the process and thought a mobile app would fit the bill. “Instead of using a computer, dealers could use their mobile device to take photographs, scan serial number and submit claims,” he explains. “That sounded like a great approach to them.”
Developing a Mobile App
After considering various options, Trek decided to go with the Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, a key component of the Oracle Cloud Platform. “We were already using several other Oracle products, including the JD Edwards suite of ERP software, and we wanted to be aligned from a technology standpoint,” Spoke says. “Ultimately, it made sense to stick with Oracle.”
Trek signed up for the cloud service and began developing a mobile app. In January 2017, Spoke moved from another role at the company to head up the project as global ERP director. “It was in the early stages at that point,” he recalls. “About 80 percent of the work has occurred between then and May, when we completed a working proof of concept.”
With the new approach, dealers snap a picture of a customer’s bike using a mobile device, and the mobile app connects directly to Trek’s supply chain applications to create a claim. In phase 1, the app is compatible with iPhones and Android devices, Spoke notes.
OCR capability in the app enables them to scan data for entry into the system. Dealers can also pull up a customer’s service history by scanning a bike’s serial number.
Trek is piloting the mobile app at two company retail stores in nearby Madison, Wisc. “We will get their feedback so we can fine-tune the app and make sure it is what our dealers want,” Spoke says. “Then we’ll roll it out to more dealers, first within the U.S. and then internationally.” There’s no specific timeline yet.
Tests of the app indicate that it will save dealers significant time. “We estimate that it takes about 6 minutes to enter a claim using our existing system,” he says. “With the app, that should drop to about 2 minutes. A reduction of 4 minutes for each claim can really add up as volume increases. That will let our dealers get back to business more quickly.”
This approach could potentially save time for Trek customer service reps, as well. “We expect improved data accuracy, since the scanning feature means dealers won’t have to type in so much information,” Spoke adds. “That could eliminate lots of problems and phone calls.”
Putting this type of functionality literally at a dealer’s fingertips is a major advance. “We’re taking a lot of functionality that dealers can now get only on a computer or by calling us on the phone,” Spoke concludes. “We believe this will enable our global retailer network to spend more time selling bicycles and better serving their customers.”