My colleague, Jason Griffing, recently wrote a piece outlining some of the challenges involved with implementing effective service strategies in an integration business.
Griffing's “from the trenches” perspective as a former integrator made me reflect on the similar struggles I have watched play out in the industry at large. And how, for all the grappling we’ve collectively done to crack the service code, we’re only now starting to recognize that what’s been in front of us the whole time was only the tip of the iceberg.
As we’ve focused on the problems in plain sight, the challenges hiding below the surface are more insidious both for their magnitude and the ease with which they can be overlooked.
It started when Ihiji introduced the integration world to Remote Systems Management (RSM). With its powerful remote support abilities, this breakthrough product seemed poised to lead integrators through a headlong service transformation. But, while RSM as a category has blossomed in recent years, our industry struggled to effectively leverage these platforms as part of a broader service strategy — namely the selling of premium services.
At the time, it seemed the missing piece was an effective roadmap integrators could follow in their quest to monetize service. Webinars, trainings, and service plan templates provided a step in the right direction. Yet, as with RSM before, these programs fell somewhere short of a transformative success.
Even integrators who adopted RSM and managed to assemble some sort form of premium service plans were still faced with a major obstacle — bandwidth.
It’s hard enough to keep up with project workload and providing even a baseline level of ongoing service. How on earth could they be expected to keep pace with the elevated demands of those clients who chose to pay for a premium level of support?
At OneVision Resources, we set out to solve this problem by providing outsourced 24/7 support. Other companies have since followed suit.
However, as we quickly found out, even having an efficient and scalable way to provide 24/7 is not enough.
Upon launching, we immediately began to appreciate that the real challenge to transforming service in our industry lies in operationalizing proven strategies and executing with speed and efficiency.
As a result, what had started as a fairly basic 24/7 service desk offering at OneVision became significantly more holistic, including everything from software implementation and training, to a turnkey RMR sales and marketing engine, and more.
There’s a worthwhile industry lesson to be gleaned from our collective propensity to underestimate of the complexities of service. The ongoing struggle plaguing so many integrators is not for a lack of technical capabilities, nor is there a shortage of good ideas. What’s been missing is an appreciation for the magnitude of the challenge.
The opportunities presented by today’s smart home market are significant and, as an integrator, you are in a perfect position to capitalize. Much of the hard work is already done; you’ve got the infrastructure, the team of skilled professionals, and a long list of existing clients, many of whom will not only be doing new projects soon but will also readily pay for premium services.
Success with service, however, still requires you roll up your sleeves. Prepare to adopt new tools, new processes, and new ways of thinking. Be ready to train your team on proper service techniques and your sales staff on new ways of presenting your value proposition. Don’t look for quick fixes. Don’t delude yourself into believing that some singular missing piece (e.g. RSM or 24/7 support) holds the key to service success.
There are no secrets or magic bullets.
The good news is that, while there may not be an easy path forward, the industry finally seems poised to embrace comprehensive service strategies. Conversations I have with integrators all over the country have me convinced that the desire for effective service strategies is at an all-time high.
With this growing demand, I can only hope for an increased appreciation for the comprehensive solutions required to successfully bridge the gap. After all, piecemeal solutions only represent the tip of the iceberg.
For more information about service and using it to create a sustainable, scalable, service-first business, visit www.onevisionresources.com/blog.