Plugging Gaps in Customer Support Revenues

Plugging Gaps in Customer Support Revenues

Interview with Mr. Jason Liner, VP FP&A MercuryGate International, Cary NC

MercuryGate is the only full power, feature-rich transportation management system (TMS) that is singularly focused on strategic freight transportation management automation and has been for over two decades. The result is the best-of-breed transportation management platform that enables logistics experts to execute efficiencies previously unattainable and empowers relative newcomers to perform at expert levels they could not otherwise achieve.

The MercuryGate TMS simplifies and centralizes the management of freight transportation within a single software platform to save time and money for shippers, 3PLs, brokers and carriers around the world. The platform supports all modes of transport including ocean, air, rail, truckload, LTL, last mile, parcel and intermodal to give you visibility to every shipment, automate manual processes, and make smarter decisions based on delivery performance.

Mr. Jason Liner is the Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis at MercuryGate International.

1. What is your primary role in the company?

My primary role is in Financial Planning and Analysis. As a part of my role, I work across Finance, Operations, Product Development, and Product Strategy. I help drive strategic decisions throughout the business, isolating issues and articulating appropriate business solutions.

2. What was the main challenge that you wanted to solve?

Some of our customers pay separately for Customer Support. For those customers, support is not a part of their subscription fees. We also do a fair amount of implementation services for our customers. We have three different teams working on customer-facing issues. There are Tier-1 and Tier-2 Support teams, the implementation team, and sometimes the development team. All these teams primarily work in different siloed software systems – the Customer support team in Salesforce, the implementation team in OpenAir, and the dev team in Jira. Our billing to customers is done based on the Case Number in Salesforce on yet another system. Reconciling hours spent on customer Cases across these systems was a nightmare. Some of the time details would have missing Case numbers. In addition, since some of our teams needed to log their hours in duplicate, they would often forget to do that. We recognized that we were losing out on our support revenues with all these issues. We desperately needed a single system-of-record for the hours that the different teams worked on Customer Cases. One that we could easily integrate with our billing system.

3. What is your number 1 challenge to tracking employee performance? 

Disparate and siloed systems for different teams

4. What is your team size?

About 120 people in Customer Service and Implementation teams. Plus, another 50 people in the development team who also work on customer-facing issues.

5. What are you currently doing to make your customer service team more efficient?

We have implemented the PK4 TimeTracker for all our teams in different ways. For the Customer Service team, which works in Salesforce, we have implemented the Time Tracker lightning component that tracks time right inside the Case. The process is highly efficient, and we are now tracking every minute that the team spends on a Case. For the development team, we have integrated their Jira worklogs to be brought into Salesforce directly via the TimeTracker. So their time is recorded automatically into the Time Tracker, without their having even to click a button. Our Implementation team uses the Time Tracker web app to track their hours whenever they need to work on a Case. So all hours worked are now directly tied to Cases, and it all happens seamlessly.

6. What has been the significant impact for you?

Within the first month of implementing the Time Tracker, we’ve seen our Support revenues go up because all the hours are now accurately tracked. The time that we spent reconciling and billing customers has also drastically reduced.

See Your Productivity Soar with the Eisenhower Matrix

See Your Productivity Soar with the Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower matrix is named after the USA’s 34th president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Not only was Eisenhower a president, but he was also a five-star general, Supreme Commander of Allied forces in WWII, and he even created NASA. He was a busy guy who got a lot done in his life, so he knew a thing or two about work productivity.

Eisenhower had the incredible ability to sustain his productivity not just for weeks or months, but for decades on end. So it’s no surprise that his methods for task management, time management and productivity have been studied and copied by scores of people.

During WWII, the then general was quite busy with many tasks on his plate. After all, work management when commanding the forces of several nations during a fierce war will be a demanding job. So, to help him improve his work management, he devised the system now known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

The Mere-Urgency Effect

The mere-urgency effect is a common phenomenon. The phenomenon is that people tend to prioritize urgent tasks rather than how important they are. So, for example, you might prioritize a Zoom call over more serious matters for no other reason than the appointment is quickly approaching. The result is that the less important tasks become neglected, thus impacting your work productivity.

The Eisenhower Matrix is also based on the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle says that 20% of input can achieve 80% of output if you practice efficient task management. However, most people and businesses tend to spend 80% of their input to achieve just 20% of their output. The Eisenhower Matrix helps overcome this by prioritizing the tasks that help you get the most important tasks done first.

How The Eisenhower Matrix Works

The Eisenhower Matrix works by diving tasks into four categories.

⦁ Urgent and important

Tasks that fall into this category are prioritized to be done before anything else.

 ⦁ Not urgent but important

 You should schedule these tasks for before the deadline approaches, but after urgent and important categories.

  ⦁ Urgent but not important

 Tasks that fall into this category should be delegated to somebody else. 

 ⦁ Not urgent and not important

In most cases, these tasks should be deleted. They will only take valuable time and give little to nothing back in return. 

One of the great things about the Eisenhower Matrix is that it can be used for broad productivity plans (“What should I accomplish this month?”) and for smaller, daily plans (“What should I do today?”).

One of the key advantages of the Eisenhower Matrix is that it helps you to stop wasting time on unproductive tasks, leaving you with more time to focus on more productive tasks instead. Such tasks tend to be menial and time-consuming, making for poor time management.

Another advantage of the Eisenhower Matrix is that it helps you visualize which of your tasks is more important and encourages you to work out how important each task is. For example, if you need to know where to place a particular account, you may be encouraged to work out how much you are profiting from that account. If the account is not earning you enough money, it can be delegated to somebody in a junior position or closed altogether.

The monetary value of a particular task is not the only thing to consider – time tends to be a far more valuable commodity. However, tracking time spent on tasks can be time-consuming, which would make it counter-productive considering we’re trying to improve your time management. One solution is to use time tracking software like the PK4 TimeTracker that will help track your time automatically. Not only will the software make it easy for you to track how long you spend working on particular tasks, but it also gives you comprehensive reports that tell you exactly what you are spending your time on. 

Easy to Use

The Eisenhower Matrix is also very easy to use. All you need is paper, a pen, a ruler, and your to-do list. Alternatively, you can find an app that will help you to create a matrix electronically.

Using pen and paper, start by drawing a box and splitting it into four separate sections. Then, label the two columns with ‘Urgent’ for the left column and ‘Not Urgent’ for the right column. Next, label the two rows with ‘Important’ on the top row and ‘Not Important’ below.

The top left-hand box should be titled ‘Do’, with ‘Decide’ in the top right-hand box. Give the bottom left-hand box the title ‘Delegate’ and the bottom right-hand box ‘Delete’.

All you need to do now is place your tasks in the appropriate box, and you have an efficient task management structure in place. 

Try the Eisenhower Matrix for yourself

Dwight Eisenhower once said “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.

The Eisenhower Matrix  helps you view both your long-term goals and your to-do lists through this prism. This will help you prioritize your days, weeks and even your longer timeframes more strategically and effectively. So if you have a growing list of goals and tasks, drawing an Eisenhower Matrix is a great place to start. Try it as you start the New Year and see if you get a better handle on things.

 

How You Can Benefit from real-time GPS tracking

How You Can Benefit from real-time GPS tracking

Time theft can cause a significant dent in a company’s bottom line. Indeed, a study has shown that employees steal around 4.5 hours from their employer every week on average. And while companies can take steps to monitor their employees in the workplace, it becomes even more difficult when employees are working out in the field. 

Field workers are typically trusted to spend their time productively instead of doing something not work-related. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for field workers to abuse that trust. For example, some people might choose to do some shopping on their company’s time, or maybe go for a meal. In some cases, field employees might not even leave their homes at all but still charge for time that they did not spend working.

It should also be noted that time theft is not always deliberate. Employees can make mistakes and forget details about their working week if they don’t fill in their timesheets straight away. 

The main headache with monitoring fieldworkers has long been the fact that you just cannot know where they are. It’s often easy for field workers to lie about their location or their timing with no way to check up. However, GPS has provided an effective solution to the problem. 

Modern Tracking Apps are the Solution

 

In the past, GPS tracking hardware would have been prohibitively expensive for most companies and would not represent a solid return on investment, if at all. However, GPS hardware is now very affordable and can be installed on smartphones. Indeed, modern smartphones typically come with GPS already installed, meaning the technology is already available for companies to use.

Of course, having the hardware that tells you where somebody is great, but it’s not of much use without software that helps you make use of information. The good news is that apps like those from PK4 Tech are available on the market that integrates GPS technology to offer valuable information for managers regarding their employees’ whereabouts and behavior. 

Time tracking apps can use a smartphone’s GPS to place the phone’s location at any time. Simply put, a time tracker, in conjunction with a smartphone’s GPS can tell managers where their employees are and where they have been. As a result, the solution helps prevent time theft because employees can no longer lie about their location, while it also helps prevent honest mistakes on timesheets. 

An Effective Deterrent

Not only does GPS time tracking software help prevent time theft, but it also helps to prevent it from happening in the first place. It can otherwise become too easy even for dedicated employees to start taking liberties, so it makes sense to let all your employees know that their location is being tracked.

Remember that it’s also important to educate your employees on why such technology is required so they understand why it is being implemented. Otherwise, it could be easy for them to feel as though they are not trusted and are being spied on, potentially causing morale and productivity to take a hit. Ensure that your employees know that using the technology is not an attempt to spy on their every move but to protect the company overall and provide reports that help improve efficiency.

In-Depth Reports

GPS time trackers can do so much more than just inform managers of their employees’ geographical location. For example, trackers can also keep records on which tasks an employee was working on, such as travelling to a location or carrying out a site survey. You can then use this information to see how efficiently employees are spending their time and what you can do to improve their efficiency further.

Comprehensive dashboards are also available that help management to see key information at a glance, helping them make fast and impactful decisions. Reports can also be created and distributed automatically, removing much of the manual work that would otherwise be involved.

Summary

GPS time tracking helps to remove many of the issues associated with time theft and employees working in the field. Not only does the technology help managers monitor and record employee data, but it also helps to act as a deterrent. The technology can help prevent deliberate time-theft, while it can also help avoid genuine errors. Remember that it’s important to educate your employees on why the technology is important to prevent a loss of trust.

With GPS time tracking apps, managers are also equipped with information that can help them make informed decisions that will help boost efficiency. Overall, the technology can help prevent time theft, increase productivity, and improve the bottom line. 

 

 

How To Stop Employee Time Theft

How To Stop Employee Time Theft

Most employers would probably like to think that they can trust their employees and employees will be honest for the most part. However, we can never be entirely sure that the people working for us won’t take advantage if given the opportunity. Indeed, a study showed that 43% of employees who have filled in timesheets had exaggerated the length of time they worked. Studies have also shown that around $400 billion is lost every year in lost productivity in the United States, further highlighting the need to address the problem.

Employee time theft comes in several types, and not all of them are necessarily deliberate. Some of the most common include: 

  • Charging for time spent on personal tasks
  • Buddy punching is a practice that involves an employee’s co-worker punching in for them despite the employee not being at work. Buddy punching alone is thought to cost approximately $373 million alone every year
  • Employees deliberately adding extra time to their worksheets
  • Employees not clocking out for breaks
  • Field employees claiming to have been working but performing other tasks, or even staying at home instead
  • Accidentally overestimating time worked.

Time theft is a real problem for many companies, especially in times of uncertainty. However, one of the most significant difficulties companies face regarding employee theft is that it’s challenging to detect. Managers cannot monitor all employees at all times, especially where field workers are concerned, and honest errors can be particularly difficult to identify. However, you can take some steps to overcome the issue.

Establish Clear Policies

One way you can help overcome some of the issues is to put a deterrent in place. Your managers can let employees know that they’re aware of problems like buddy punching and that employees will be reprimanded if caught doing so. The act of bringing up the topic alone can avoid complacency among employees and deter them from punching in for friends. Make sure to be polite and respectful when reminding your employees about your policies, but also make sure that you’re firm. Acting on indiscretions will help to send the message that you will not tolerate time theft.  

Educate Management

Quite often, the signs of time theft are right in front of us, but we won’t spot them if we don’t know what we’re looking for. For example, what might appear to be a case of an employee working later than others could easily mean that they’re not being honest about their time sheet. After all, it’s a lot easier to be dishonest on your time sheets when there’s nobody around because they’ve already gone home for the day.

Educate Employees

In many cases, time theft might be down to misunderstandings that you can easily clear up with simple communication. You should also make it clear to employees when it’s reasonable for them to record to add time and when it isn’t. You can also educate your employees on the potential harm that time theft can cause businesses, potentially even placing their jobs and their colleagues’ jobs at risk.

Use Time Tracking Software

Software like the PK4 TimeTracker will help to ensure that time is tracked accurately and fairly. For example, the buddy punching system won’t work with time tracking software because employees have to be logged into their computers or on their own mobile devices to track time. The system also helps prevent forms from being filled in erroneously, while it also helps management see which tasks their employees have been working on.

Time tracking software will also help ensure time is recorded accurately for field workers. The time tracking app can record an employee’s location through GPS, so you know they were in the right place. The software is also easy for employees and managers to use, while reviewing and approving timesheets is also made simple, further helping to ensure accurately recorded time. 

Overall, time tracker software will help to empower teams to work better and be more productive. Time sheets will more accurately reflect work that has been done while also giving management access to helpful information such as how much time employees spent on particular tasks. Such information will help management see if time is being spent effectively, helping them make their teams more productive while also helping to reduce frustrations.

 

 

You Really Need Timesheets for Salaried Employees. Here’s Why!

You Really Need Timesheets for Salaried Employees. Here’s Why!

Salaried employees get paid the same regardless of whether or not their time is tracked, so is there any need for time tracking at all? Surely it’s just a waste of time and something that’s only likely to irritate rather than encourage productivity. So why use a time tracker for salaried employees at all?
There are several reasons why time management for salaried employees is a rather good idea, some of which are below.

Prevent Employee Burnout

Managers watch employee times

Managers track employee time

Employee burnout is an issue that any company should be mindful of. It’s not just that we should have our employee’s best interests in mind (although that would be nice), but burnout can negatively affect a company as well.

A burned-out employee is likely to offer less productivity than otherwise. Not only will their performance levels drop but you might end up losing them altogether. Timesheets will help you to identify employees who probably need to take a break, or at least spend more of their day doing things other than working.

Improve Productivity

Time tracking products like the PK4 TimeTracker are not necessarily about snooping on employees (although they can be if you feel some people are not pulling their weight). In most cases, asking salaried staff to complete timesheets is more about understanding which tasks are time-consuming and where time management can be improved. Employees spend around 4 hours a week on unproductive tasks, and knowing where time is spent will help to identify where their time could be put to better use. If your employees are spending a lot of time on menial tasks that could be automated, for example, then you’d know that investing in the right technology could bring a considerable boost to productivity.

Billing Customers

Some companies will charge their clients on an hourly basis for their services. So, even if an employee’s pay is not affected by the hours they work, a time tracker is still very useful when it comes to billing customers. Not only does time tracking let companies know what to charge when invoicing, but they can also provide a breakdown of the work that has been done. Considering around 10% of billable hours can be lost if time is not recorded by the end of the day, it’s easy to see how time tracking will be beneficial.

Calculate Overtime

Ok, we’ve not been entirely honest above when we say salaried employees are always paid the same – there is overtime to take into account.

Employees that are legible for overtime would no doubt be quite keen to be paid for additional worked hours. After all, they’re probably not doing it because they just love to be in the office. On the flip-side, employers are not usually in the habit of paying people for nothing, and time tracking can come in handy here as well.

Although not all employees are eligible for overtime, time tracking is somewhat of a no-brainer for many of those that are and quite necessary for payroll to be accurate.

Project Management

Complex project management can be difficult, with time management being one of the most difficult challenges. If something is taking longer than expected then it’s best to know as soon as possible because an issue in the pipeline can affect everything else that comes afterwards. With time tracking, project management becomes a lot easier because you know just how much time is being spent and whether or not the task is on target to meet deadlines.

Measuring Costs

Costs are one of the most important metrics that determine whether or not a business is a success or a failure, and time tracking is an effective way of helping you to manage your costs. With a timesheet, you can see where your employees are spending time on tasks that are not cost-effective, enabling you to make changes that will allow you to manage your costs better.

Above are just a few reasons why time management is a good idea for salaried staff. A timesheet can help you to know how much payroll should be paying your employees and how much you should be invoicing your clients. They can provide you with a breakdown of a working day that will help you identify areas for improvement where costs and productivity are concerned, while time tracking will also help you manage the well-being of your valued employees better.

It is also very easy to use time tracking, with modern options offering greater functionality such as reporting in addition to simply keeping a record of time worked.