OffShoring Engineering

Sabre and Fujitsu

Fujitsu Services provide a Managed Outsource Service to Sabre customers comprising of hardware and software support and Desktop Maintenance Services including multi-lingual 2nd line helpdesk, installation, adds, moves and change management across 70 countries globally excluding the USA.

The Challenge

Operating one of the world’s largest privately owned real-time computer systems, Sabre serves 30,000 travel agency locations and three million registered individuals. It provides access to a huge database of fares, schedules and availability and enables its customers to make reservations with airlines, car rental companies, hotels, tour operators, railways, ferries and cruise lines throughout the world. Sabre’s network links over 130,000 terminals, and sends up to 190 million messages per day to its data centre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Sabre also provides decision support systems, software and consulting services to the travel and transportation industry. Widespread use of the Internet has made competition within this sector even more intense and customer service is the number one issue for Sabre.

The Solution

The relationship with Sabre began in January 1993 with a contract to deliver desktop maintenance and support services on a global basis, excluding the USA. The original contract was renewed in 1996 and extended in 1998 when Fujitsu Services took responsibility for European warehousing and logistics and became Sabre’s Compaq reseller. Fujitsu Services conducted the Year 2000 migration for Sabre in Europe and now supports 32,000 units in 70 countries, handling around 30,000 calls per annum. To ensure consistent levels of service quality the contract is centrally managed by a team located in London. The current contract extends far beyond the original remit. Sabre’s business has become increasingly software and services orientated and Fujitsu services’ role now is to support Sabre as it develops its business, ensuring that it has an IT infrastructure that can accommodate future requirements. Fujitsu supplies and configures products; stores, distributes, collects and refurbishes them; provides integrated multi-lingual call management and help desk support; and works within a variable service level structure that allows for customer segmentation and prioritization. The strength of the relationship between the two partners was confirmed when the latest contract was agreed following a six month requirement study conducted by Fujitsu. When Fujitsu Services presented its findings, Sabre confirmed them and did not issue an invitation to tender.

The Benefits

David Brown adds, “SLA quantifiables alone cannot measure customer service. Say a customer calls with a fault, and we have two options: to send an engineer within one hour or send the engineer that the customer knows the next morning. The customer may choose to have the familiar engineer, and whilst this does not meet the SLA the customer is happy. I’d rather satisfy a customer than an internal procedure.”

A large, geographically spread account requires focus, co-ordination and excellent communication. “We expect a service that is not just mechanical but is also attitudinal” said David Brown. “Two of the key personnel who worked on the original contract have stayed with the account and that continuity has been extremely beneficial. These people ended up becoming part of our problem solving team.”

The fact that Fujitsu Services is an intrinsic part of Sabre’s service delivery means that both parties are in a complex interdependent relationship. David Brown again: “ needs to understand what our customers want and we need to understand what resources Fujitsu has at its disposal. The good thing is that this has created a positive attitude throughout both organisations, one that focuses on the job to be done rather than a contract. There is no secret formula for good customer service. It is all about trust and working together because nobody wins when you are trying to allocate blame. Each improvement becomes a new baseline so we need to keep on thinking in order to make another step forward. When we work together we identify more effective processes.”

For David Brown the success of the relationship with Fujitsu Services is founded on the many small steps that built trust and allowed Sabre to include Fujitsu Services in the design and development of customer service. For example, the original contract specified that Fujitsu Services was to despatch an engineer for a faulty keyboard or mouse. This meant that sometimes engineers were not available for really critical issues. Sabre and Fujitsu Services agreed that it made sense to send replacement keyboards and mice by next day postal delivery.

In some processes both Sabre and Fujitsu Services are involved and both parties are aware that this could lead to the classic problem of no one being ultimately responsible. “We are now looking at whether our own involvement actually adds value” reported David Brown, “or if we should simply hand over to Fujitsu Services.”

The Implementation

All service calls are routed directly to London and then automatically dispatched to Fujitsu Services’ team in the local country. The central call control desk in London can see the progress of any call. On-site services include maintenance, installations, de-installations, moves, re-locations and upgrades. Fujitsu Services provides four levels of service according to the size and type of the customer in line with Sabre’s requirements.

The customer services side is so important that Sabre and Fujitsu Services are continually refining how to measure effectiveness. The latest performance indicators for Fujitsu Services are not in traditional SLA format. Instead SLAs are used as a backdrop and both parties concentrate on whether customers are happy. As David Brown commented, “The standard is seven hours. I do not care if it is six hours. I want the experience with the engineer and the communication process around it to be so beneficial that customers are happy.”

The Expertise

Fujitsu Services draws on its extensive experience in tailored market and customer solutions, technical help desk provision, internet services and training and skills development to help SABRE address business and operational goals. As a result Fujitsu Services has worked more and more closely with Sabre. One example of this is ’ enhanced role in the management of Sabre’s product introduction process, this includes design, test, rollout and review.

“Getting it right is what matters most to our customers and we know we can trust Fujitsu Services to get it right.” David Brown, Vice President, UK, Ireland & Nordic, Sabre

“We provide mission critical systems and oftware. If we fail our customers, they simply cannot conduct any business.” David Brown, Vice President, UK, Ireland & Nordic, Sabre

“We have committed to our customers through stringent Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) and a service failure is quite visible. The only way to get and keep customers is through service. Getting it right is what matters most to our customers and we know we can trust Fujitsu to get it right” David Brown, Vice President, UK, Ireland & Nordic, Sabre

“We can rely on staff to recognise this and go beyond minimum requirements. Fujitsu Services engineers build personal relationships with our customers and we know this makes a huge difference.” David Brown, Vice President, UK, Ireland & Nordic, Sabre