As a former integrator who recently joined the team at OneVision, I’ve been afforded some fascinating perspectives related to a question that’s long plagued me. Along with many others in the industry, I’ve often wondered why so many attempts to implement premium service plans fail outright.
Most recently, countless conversations at CEDIA 2017 have reinforced my belief that the industry is starving for solutions to this challenge. Incidentally, another belief of mine was reinforced by these conversations — that many integrators and vendors in our industry are failing to see the whole picture when it comes to the challenge of addressing service in a scalable and sustainable manner.
In my time as an integrator, I had the opportunity to work at numerous companies of different shapes and sizes, most of which made some attempt to create and sell premium service plans. They all shared two things common: the desire to implement an effective service strategy, and the struggle to find any traction in doing so.
Universally, these service initiatives turned into quagmires, taking too long to achieve mediocre results or worse yet, dying on the vine. As it turns out, we were far from alone in this experience; at OneVision we’ve spoken with hundreds of integrators with the same battle scars. I’ve often reflected on why. What is it about our industry’s attempts to find effective service strategies that caused them all to meet the same fate?
The answer is simple: very few in the industry understand the complexities involved with implementing meaningful change in their service offerings until it’s too late. Lacking an effective roadmap, they dive in head first with grand ambitions.
On the surface, it seems so simple. For years, we were told to simply install an RSM device on every project, create a service plan one-pager, and off you go on the road to selling premium services. Not so fast.
The countless challenges only start to reveal themselves as you peel back the layers of the proverbial onion:
- Service Plan Creation: What offerings should you include in your plans? How many different options should you offer? How should they be priced? How will we ensure our plans are profitable?
- Systems and Process: Once you start selling premium services, how will you ensure you can deliver on your promise? Who on your team is going to select and implement a service ticketing system to ensure nothing falls through the cracks? What about tools to manage your on-call schedule and notifications to ensure the right people are notified at the right time, 100 percent of the time?
- Training and Consistency: Once processes are established, you’ll need to train your team. Does your project manager know how to hand off the relationship to your service manager? Can all your service techs provide a consistent experience? Who will lead these process development and training initiatives?
- Logistics / Staffing: Are extended service hours (e.g. 24/7) going to be part of your premium offerings? How will you provide high-quality support around-the-clock with your existing team? Will this result in massive burnout? You’ll likely need to outsource, but how will you be sure that you’re selecting the right outsourcing partner?
- Legal / Contractual: Do you have a Terms of Service agreement in place for all your clients? Should your lawyer review these documents regarding the offering of remote monitoring contracts and automatic payment processing?
- Marketing and Sales: How do you plan to let your clients know about your new offering? Does your sales team know how to lead with service? Do you have a system to develop and nurture your sales funnel including landing pages, email marketing campaigns, and marketing collateral? Do you have a copy writer? What about graphics?
- Administrative: Assuming you get to the point where you’re actually selling plans, how will handle payment processing? What about tracking which client is on what plan to ensure they consistently receive the benefits (e.g. faster response times etc) that they’ve paid for?
And the list of questions and challenges goes on. Additionally, all of these obstacles must be overcome while you’re attempting to run your existing projects-based business, which if you’re like most in the industry, is already resource-constrained. It’s no small wonder that so many service initiatives get hopelessly mired down.
I know because I’ve been there myself.
Many of my conversations with integrators at CEDIA reinforced my conviction that the industry is hungrier than ever for service solutions and as confused as ever about how to get there. It’s a big problem that very few know how to solve. And it’s the single biggest reason I chose to join the team at OneVision — a company that dedicated to bringing holistic service solutions to the industry for the first time.
But whether you chose to enlist such an offering or go it alone, you should know that without a proven roadmap and the resources to go and execute with speed, your service initiatives are likely to meet the fate of so many before them.
For more information about service and using it to create a sustainable, scalable, service-first business, visit www.onevisionresources.com/blog.