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Commentary & Analysis

The Critical Role of Local Support

by Bob Raus of Oc&

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: October 25, 2004

by Bob Raus of Océ North America's Digital Document Systems Division The only thing worse than having your systems fail is not being able to recover--and quickly. October 25, 2004 -- New purchases of equipment and software are typically justified through the ROI of a few key business applications. After the new systems are delivered, debugged, up and running comes the reality of ownership. Adapting the new equipment to your complete array of jobs, and leveraging your new investment to help your business grow and become more competitive, is part of an ongoing process that is much more important that the initial implementation. It's a process that requires an on-going partnership and several levels of support from your technology vendor-- beginning with basic maintenance and repair and optimally evolving to a true interactive partnership. Support begins right after the sale while new equipment and software is delivered and integrated into your operation. The steps taken here are vital to getting the new systems "up and running" and include support for existing and new applications as well as basic "break-fix" functions. After all, the only thing worse than having your systems fail is not being able to recover--and quickly. For hardware especially, you expect service and support to match your operational requirements. For example, a data center or service bureau may need 24/7 support, while a CRD charged with managing a company's office copiers and printers may only need support for a single shift five days a week. When the chips are down, you don't want your primary support to be a faceless phone presence a thousand miles away who you have to educate on your latest applications and processes before they can tell your staff what to try next. Many equipment and software vendors offer remote diagnostic services that require your MIS staff’s time and direct involvement. This can be a smart use of technology for some applications, but it is not a replacement for having vendors' support staff physically on site when things aren't going according to plan. For example, when you're hard against a deadline and there is a problem with the software, the front end or the print engine, there is nothing better than having a fully trained, dedicated expert that you know and trust on your shop floor, working on your behalf to make sure you are up and running. The bottom line is that when the chips are down, you don't want your primary support to be a faceless phone presence a thousand miles away who you have to educate on your latest applications and processes before they can tell your staff what to try next. Beyond Basic Support When your vendor’s local support team truly understands your customers and their applications as well as your internal capabilities and business goals, they are well positioned to provide the support beyond just keeping you up and running. An up-to-date, in-depth understanding of your local operation is critical to your on-going success. The familiarity a local support staff has with your business and the level of trust and confidence you have in those experts brings additional long-term value. When your vendor’s local support team truly understands your customers and their applications as well as your internal capabilities and business goals, they are well positioned to provide the support beyond just keeping you up and running. This knowledge helps them anticipate your needs and work proactively to help you improve; even before you ask for or know you need the help. It's like having your doctor notice something out of line when you go in for your physical and providing a schedule of preventative measures you can take to alleviate potential problems. Attentive local support can help keep you on the cutting edge, offering new services and capabilities, and doing more for your customers. This comes from a support team that not only knows the industry, but also knows your business and has a robust portfolio of services to offer should you need them. In addition, while a support team may be local to your business, they must also have access to the expertise and knowledge of their counterparts in support services and research and development both nationally and internationally, which they can draw on to help you find the solutions your business challenges. This comes from a support team that not only knows the industry, but also knows your business and has a robust portfolio of services to offer should you need them. Your day-to-day success often comes down to having vendor support teams take a personal responsibility for helping your business succeed. With all the complexities of business today, nothing beats having a local expert standing by to help when you need it. After all, when you pay a company a monthly maintenance fee, why should your IT, or production staff be responsible for project management and issue resolution?

 

 

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