When Mack owners’ trucks need repair, they can be back in business with as little as one phone call to the Mack Uptime Center. The 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, 365-days-per-year facility is staffed by customer support specialists dedicated to helping truckers reduce — or completely avoid — costly downtime. They understand that when a truck isn’t running, it’s not making money. “Essentially what we’re doing is streamlining the process so our customers don’t have to do the paperwork and be on the phone all day,” says Shaun Collette, who has been a customer support specialist at the call center for almost two years. “That’s what we’re here for.” Located next to Mack’s corporate offices in Greensboro, N.C., the Uptime Center houses Mack’s “total support” organization for customers. Collette is on the OneCall team — more than 40 highly trained product and customer support specialists who use Mack’s advanced telematics technologies, such as Mack GuardDog Connect and Mack ASIST fleet management systems to help proactively identify potential problems, schedule repairs and even line up the necessary parts. The process begins when a Mack customer — driver, dispatcher or fleet manager — calls the Uptime Center. On this day, Collette answers a call from the driver of a Mack Granite with two issues: a power steering leak and an open service program, which is a software update. The driver knew about the leak, but a routine check of the truck’s VIN (vehicle identification number) by Mack’s ASIST immediately flagged the software update. Collette refers to the two computer monitors on his desk, where the ASIST program provides a seamless communication platform between the service manager, the truck, the dealer and the Uptime Center team. Collette can see the tractor’s mileage and time in service. He can also see the truck’s GPS coordinates, which he enters into Google Maps so he knows exactly where it is. Safety first Collette makes sure the driver is in a safe location (he is, the tractor is parked in the truck yard), and is not facing hazardous weather conditions. He also makes sure the trailer is secure (in this case, there isn’t one). Then he goes to work on getting the truck back on the road as quickly as possible. Next, Collette determines if the tractor can be repaired on-site. “I don’t want to tow a truck if somebody on the ground can fix it in 20 minutes,” he says. Collette calls the driver’s fleet manager, who refers him to the service manager, who says the tractor needs to be towed to a Mack dealership for the repair and update. Collette calls upon his past experience in taking the next step in the process: contacting the dealership. Before joining the call center, Collette worked for more than 10 years in the auto industry as a line tech, service manager and warranty administrator. “My auto industry experience is definitely a plus because I understand the fl ow of work through a dealership,” he says. “My experience in a service department is also a plus because sometimes I have to function as an interpreter, communicating service department jargon to the customer in terms he can understand.” When talking to the dealership, Collette gives them specifics about the tractor, like how many miles and hours are on it and what’s wrong. He checks to see if the dealership has a towing service, and since they don’t in this case, he asks the dealership to issue a purchase order to a tow vendor. “One of the biggest advantages we provide for the customer is putting the complete package together,” he says. “If there is a warrantable failure, when the dealer submits a warranty claim, the fleet has to have the paperwork listing the parts, the labor, the tow bill, everything they need.” After contacting the tow service and setting up the tow, Collette calls the driver and fleet manager and lets them know the ETA. The entire process usually requires about four calls, only one of which — the initial call — is made by the customer. The Uptime Center coordinator handles all of the communication. In the case above, the tractor was close to the local dealer, but what happens when it’s on the other side of the country? Collette says one of the most benefi cial services the Uptime Center offers is its ASIST program, a Web-based tool that allows the customer, dealer and the Uptime Center to communicate on one platform. “If you are a dispatcher in Tennessee, and you have a truck broken down in California, all you can do is throw a dart in a phone book and hope,” Collette says. “That’s where we can step in because what we do is establish relationships with local vendors and the Mack dealer. “We can contact the dealer on the customer’s behalf and initiate service. We also have preferred towing and road side vendors who have contracted rates and insurance certifi cates on fi le to help if the dealer is already serving a customer.” Time is money Collette and the other Uptime Center customer support specialists understand their customers’ sense of urgency. He recently received a call from a Mack owneroperator who was hauling a government load of military equipment. “This gentleman had a dedicated route that he ran Sunday through Wednesday,” Collette says. “He’s got an escort in front of him and an escort behind him. He does not want to lose this load, and I can appreciate that.” Another recent customer was a father-son team who had a dedicated route running from Wisconsin to California and back every week. “They pick up their load on Wednesdays,” Collette says, “So when the truck goes down, if it’s not ready until Thursday, he’s off that week until the following Wednesday, and that’s not okay with him.” Beth Coggin, the director of the Uptime Center, says this sense of urgency is something that’s highlighted throughout the customer support training process. Specialists also are coached on how to communicate with callers who are in a stressful situation. “The people who call us are in a crisis situation, and we have to be mindful of that,” Coggin says. “Part of training is putting yourself in their shoes. If you were stranded along the road in Alaska and it’s 20 below, you are not going to be full of pleasantries.” Coggin says because of this, she keeps a close eye on the support specialists to make sure they are not getting burned out. “This job isn’t for everyone,” she says. But Collette says he enjoys what he does. “Our function isn’t just regurgitation of information from a spreadsheet which can get monotonous,” he says. “Our role here is always changing and you have the opportunity to think and operate within your own parameters.”
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