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May 08 www.bus-ex.com 85 own survey and its own set of survey questions. For example, one client was asked whether there was an insurance claim on the move and for how much. Until recently, Arpin was sending invoices before the amount of these claims was declared. Now it waits until the claim amount is known, and the results have been positive. “We time the process based on what triggers the survey,” Sullivan explained, “and we’ve seen the highest score increase for that client.” As another example, another client’s survey asked whether or not the movers laid down carpet runners in the home. The moves Arpin was handling for this client, however, were so small that the use of carpet wasn’t necessary, but in order to score well, it is now part of how it does business for that client. “We’ve responded internally,” Sullivan said. “Each account manager ArpinVanLines Bob Sullivan tells Jenn Monroe how Arpin Van Lines makes the grade with corporate clients Customer satisfaction surveys are not uncommon in today’s marketplace, but few companies are taking the results as seriously as Arpin Van Lines/Arpin Group. According to Bob Sullivan, senior vice president of the corporate client division, the company has made significant changes to the way it does business to earn high marks with each individual customer. “We’ve re-invented our service delivery model based on the survey questions for each account,” he explained. “We design service delivery based on the questions, and we’re focused on achieving the highest score.” This is not as simple as it sounds, as Arpin Van Lines/Arpin Group serves domestic and international clients in four different categories— corporate, military, general services (non-military government), and private. Each customer has its Smooth moves

86 May 08 www.bus-ex.com knows the questions being scored.” Not only are the questions different, but so is the way scores are measured from customer to customer. “We get data from many different sources,” Sullivan said. “Many companies outsource, and some have us do it. We actually outsource because we want unbiased feedback from our customers. “We designed a database internally to field the surveys to host and interpret scores,” he continued. “We have a common scoring system for all lines of business, even though each method and each set of questions is different.” Close attention to scoring has become so much a part of how Arpin does business that it is using the same process to grade its supply chain. “We give each of our supply chain partners a grade,” Sullivan said. “We’re doing same thing our customers are doing to us. We’re constantly talking to our suppliers.” This system is known as Arpin ACES (Agents Committed to Excellent Service), and it evaluates each vendor in its geographic location by the services performed. Through Arpin’s program, the company (as well as its suppliers) is given an overall letter grade once all the numbers have been crunched. To make sure it continues to receive high marks, the company has adopted a team approach to customer service. Serving the corporate client is a team composed of an account executive, a day-to-day customer service manager, executive-level contacts, and support from the supply chain manager, legal, and information technology. Additionally, the family being moved has access to a counselor to guide them through the relocation process. “Every team has the same make-up,” Sullivan said, “but we’re constantly reviewing the team’s structure. I’m always thinking strategically. “We performed 32,000 moves in 2007,” he continued, “and we’re handling moves to and from some of the most remote places in the world.” This requires a global supply of movers, which is becoming more and more of a challenge for Arpin’s domestic clients. The company employs 60 corporate drivers but relies heavily upon agents in franchises around the country. “Some do everything, some do only corporate, and some specialize in military,” Sullivan said. “We have to evaluate everything and make decisions about who will get the work. “Internationally, it’s not as hard to find good movers,” he continued. “They spend the day packing and then go home at night. Domestically, it’s completely reversed.” For domestic agents, the moving business is a nomadic lifestyle that requires finding labor in new locations. “We background-check everyone who goes into a home,” Sullivan said, “and it’s “We give each of our supply chain partners a grade. We’re doing same thing our customers are doing to us. We’re constantly talking to our suppliers”