Why Outsource Service & Maintenance?
Corporate thinking in the kiosk industry needs to consider installation and maintenance customer-centric activities as demands and expectations rise. But what does this mean for the sector in today’s global market?
Managing an effective pre- and post-sales customer support service is one of the biggest challenges facing kiosk and digital signage integrators.
The cost of installing equipment, and retaining a team of in-house installers and maintenance engineers, for example, will always represent significant overhead and very often isn’t a practical solution for specialist manufactures and their resellers or integrators: a permanent team of people is not a flexible resource that can be scaled up or down according to changing market conditions or customer demand. Added to which, there are other variable costs, such as vehicles and tools that need to be bought and maintained to keep equipment up and running.
For many integrators, the cost of employing a full-time team therefore is not viable, even though the need is still there.
An attractive option to this is running outsourced technical team, which can deliver benefits to a business and its customers. By contracting an outsourcer to provide installation and maintenance, a business immediately has access to nationwide, instant cover. An outsourced partnership agreement should also be able to cover installations, warranty packages and technical services, as well as provide consultancy around issues such as customer care. It can further provide additional support such as helpdesk, a technical telephone service, and technical assistants for demonstrating how the systems work to staff.
This is also a business resource that allows companies to respond rapidly and flexibly to changing market conditions, as operations can be scaled up or down without affecting service levels. Valuable technical resources for high-end development work can also be provided so kiosk integrators can direct capital at their core business and free management time up to concentrate on running and growing the company.
This is all very well, but one question that remains is how does outsourcing customer-facing activity affect a customer relationship?
Well, it should enhance it, because a good technical outsource team will provide manufacturer-authorised and accredited service.There is also a need to remember that around half of the modern service call, whether maintenance or installation, is managing the customer rather than the technology, i.e. educating the user on the best use of the systems they are operating (hence the need for technical staff demonstrations).
Product servicing is about people: every service call can either add value or damage a product/company. In terms of pre- or after-sales activity, it is more than just fixing the kit, but how you go about it. An experienced, professional service engineer can keep a look out for a company, capable by turns of spotting potential issues but also identifying new business opportunities.
Before entering into an outsourced relationship, businesses need to ensure that the agreements that are in place benefit and protect your business.
In my view, where possible, companies should be looking for “borderless collaboration” with their outsourcing partners. Qcom’s relationship, for example, as an outsourcer goes beyond being a supplier, or indeed just white labelling our services. We collaborate with clients when they are pitching for new business, helping to formulate strategy around areas such as customer service. For me, sharing strategies, results and future direction is crucial for a lasting relationship.
As take-up for kiosk and digital signage solutions accelerates, customer service will become an increasingly important management issue because of the rising number of installations and the need to maintain units already in the field. Smaller, in-house teams may not be able to handle the work load, leaving the business with two options: investing and scaling up the team or outsourcing.
Monday, November 30, 2009