Avis – Microsoft
Company: MicrosoftCustomer: AvisSubmitted by: ShandwickAvis wanted a solution to increase the efficiency of its check-in and damage assessment processes. It needed a platform that could be used across a diverse enterprise with many different business models. A Microsoft® Windows® Powered Pocket PC Solution from Microsoft Solution Partner, TBS, was chosen to capture detailed information on the forecourt and integrate it with sophisticated back end databases.
Avis is the leading car rental company in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia, serving more than seven million customers a year through a network of over 2,700 locations employing over 5,500 staff.
The organisation generates revenues of over 1.6bn euros per annum through wholly owned subsidiaries and an extensive network of licensee partners.
Avis is a long established company that prides itself on efficient customer service. It is always looking to extend and improve current operations to take advantage of new technologies. The company claims to hold the number one spot in the European rental market, and by constant innovation it aims to keep it.Avis’ goal is to improve customer service by streamlining its rental procedure and making hiring cars easier.
It plans to automate as much as possible, from the checking in and out of cars, to the assessment of damage when vehicles are returned. This will make the service faster for customers as it speeds up these processes and will also lower operating and vehicle costs for Avis.”A good example of where our processes needed automating is when vehicles are returned with light damage. We estimate that the rental industry could potentially save approximately £30m a year on unrecovered costs in the UK alone. The recording of any damage to vehicles must be both accurate and timely, to improve the process efficiency and ensure consistency in reporting,” explains Randal Tarn, Director of Fleet and Operations, Avis Europe.
Though the company recognised that the answer was to invest in a mobile solution, this solution had to be flexible enough to adapt to each of the company’s business models, without changing the core platform.
Palm and EPOC were quickly dismissed due to a lack of connectivity options, and it was the size and ease of application development on the platform that won through for the Pocket PC.Avis worked with TBS to develop a Pocket PC solution based on its vehicle information tracking system, AutoGraph. Using AutoGraph, information on mileage, fuel and any damage can be captured at the vehicle and transferred to Avis’ Wizard system. This updates fleet records, generates any damage claims and calculates the final rental charge, which can be printed immediately. The hardware used to capture this information is a ruggedised Pocket PC device, the Symbol® PT2700 with an integral IR scanner. These devices connect easily to enterprise networks via connectivity options such as wired, wireless LAN, GSM, and integrate with a number of back end data sources.
“The process is far simpler thanks to the range of hardware and software facilities that we’ve been able to introduce with the solution, such as bar code scanning and on-screen signature capture,” says Tarn. “This new system saves considerable time for the customer, with appraisals being completed in just two minutes. It also ensures that crucial customer information and signatures are not lost.”Steve Reynolds of TBS says: “The system was very easy to build thanks to the new Microsoft development tools for Pocket PC. We could not have developed such a solution with any other platform in the time required. In fact the wealth of tools available for Pocket PC are simply not available for Palm or EPOC.
” He continues: “Because Pocket PC integrates so seamlessly with Windows® NT® and SQL Server, both currently used by Avis, and in which we have expertise, administration and training costs for TBS are kept to a minimum. Consequently, we can allocate more of our resources to developing an application which fits our customers’ exact needs.”
In a continual quest to maximise customer service, the company is already eyeing future business benefits on the horizon. “The exciting part of this solution is the vision for the future. With Pocket PC, we are looking at a device that will have an ever expanding application base. The extensibility of the platform is really exciting for us as we can use a single platform to exploit a whole range of mobile business opportunities,” says Alan Saunders, IT Director, Strategy ; Performance, Avis.
“We now have the capability of doing live signature capture with the customer, and in the future we can look towards integrating new features such as belt mounted printers and digital cameras to further extend the process to the customer.”