Leveraging the latest technology to boost customer service

Service Parts Logistics invests in cutting-edge IT systems and passionate service, ensuring the best customer experience in the local IT service industry.

Johannesburg, 10 May 2024
Passionate about customer service.
Passionate about customer service.

When a company places customer service at the top of its goals, as Service Parts Logistics has, ensuring the best possible customer experience (CX) means leveraging the latest technologies to meet and even exceed their expectations.

As Africa's largest IT parts distributor, Service Parts Logistics is the authorised agent for some of the country's top brands, including HP, Acer, Lenovo, Fujitsu – and many more.

The business believes three things set it apart from the competition: outstanding, passionate customer service; intelligent IT systems that automate processes and profile stock based on market trends and customer needs; and 3 000m² of warehouse space packed with inventory.

According to Chris Cox, company MD, the business holds around R60 million in spares at its warehouse, and these run the gamut from AC adaptors and batteries, through to server drives and memories, mainboards and networking switches. Essentially, he says, the company stocks any IT part, from consumer level right up to networking and server storage in the data centre.

“In order to ensure our clients can meet their service level agreements (SLAs) with end customers, we build up detailed failure rate and installed base information per brand, client and commodity, based on a sophisticated algorithmic planning system, which we developed with some world-class statisticians and brands you’d recognise in your home. This ensures we stock enough spares in the right locations to help our clients meet their obligations,” he notes.

“We also offer out-of-warranty parts and services, where we have items with historically strong run rates. Here we leverage past history, as well as installed bases to determine the numbers and types of products we most likely will require.”

Cox explains that technology is critical to the company, as this is what enables it to meet its clients' demands easily. He points out that a lot has been invested in this respect in its warehouse, as it is these systems that will have the biggest impact on its customers.

“To this end, we have built four bespoke systems to help automate and increase the efficiency of the systems and those using them. Most uniquely, we have TechCare Care4IT, a service where we contractually guarantee resellers parts availability based on an SLA and flat monthly cost. Your part will be there within 90 minutes, no matter what time of the day or night, 365 days a year. It’s available whether your servers and storage are brand new or 20 years old. It’s substantially cheaper than comparable offerings because of our market position and our automation.

“Secondly, SmartParts is an internal sales tool and the ‘mastermind’ for our sales team and makes life simpler for them, and allows them to deliver a better, faster and more comprehensive service. It’s critical to our reputation of being known for being able to find just about anything.

“The third system we have implemented is iSuppli, which is a customer service interface for things like accounts’ statements, invoices, credit notes and proof of delivery.

“Finally, Big Brother tracks our inventory on a licence plate (serial number) from PO to inbound courier to receiving, binning, picking, dispatch and we are now in the process of integrating outbound courier and collection management. It’s a game-changer for inventory management, and our customers will feel a major difference later this year too.”

He adds that the company is also investigating and trialling some of the latest technologies available. For one, the organisation has begun using artificial intelligence (AI) extensively this year, using it to help within its demand planning and forecasting tools both internally and for clients.

Although customers are not really seeing this directly in action, he adds, it is providing significant assistance to the company’s salespeople and stores – which ultimately means improved customer service.

“We are also looking at ways of diagnosing parts via images. While this technology is still in its infancy and there remain some complexities to work out, the goal is for clients to be able to send a picture of the part, and we then use the image to identify the part, the manufacturer, and potentially, the problem as well.

“Service Parts Logistics brings together large datasets, cutting-edge technology, physical spare parts, intelligence and know how, and a team of skilled and passionate people to deliver a superb experience to our customers. In the end, a good customer experience is the ultimate goal. After all, nobody can stop a machine from failing, but we can deliver the best CX possible when it comes to the challenge of fixing and maintaining it – and we keep our promises,” concludes Cox.