Herman Blog

Can Integrators Afford Not To Have a Strong Service Plan for National Customers?

Written 2015-03-04 by D Wolf

Over the past few years the visibility of the “Global Enterprise” has become more and more top of mind. Even small(ish) companies are quickly expanding to have national or global footprints because as technology continues to proliferate and allow us to connect more easily, our ability to serve people in broader locations follows suit.

However, in the integration space going national has proven to not be so simple. While I’m the first to acknowledge that the idea of taking your integration company national isn’t a brand new topic, I think many readers would tend to agree that our integration companies are being asked to serve broader needs for our clients and with that often entails broader geographic reach.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for integrators is that installation work in geographic areas where we don’t have physical presences can mean a lot of project hiccups. Even the best-planned project has a tendency to require a quick trip to the home depot of an extra day onsite. When you have people deployed via air travel it is difficult to deal with these unexpected issues and this can cause turbulence with customers that you have promised the ability to handle their multi-location needs.

By and large, the best integrators have figured this out though. Through the use of strategic partners or alliances, they have cracked the code and gotten the integration work done and to the customers liking, but in the integration industry, the end of the job isn’t when the installer leaves with a sign off. Instead, the end of the job really doesn’t exist because integrators realize that at the core they are service providers and in our business service never ends.

I genuinely believe the make or break for integrators moving into the coming years is going to be the ability for them to not only install systems for their clients everywhere, but provide a quality of service after the installation that reflects what a well organized local company can do.

Without vans on the street, this task probably seems daunting for most companies in our space. Mostly because the historic best practice, even for larger integrators has been to use other integrators or technical service providers to handle needs for their customers outside of their supported geographic areas.

After giving this subject much thought, what I am coming to see is that this method of operation is very difficult for most companies to sustain, especially if they are seeing more than a few of their customers requesting service outside of their office locations. Trying to find, organize and manage a wide array of third party service providers seems like a lot to tackle, and we all know that other integrators aren’t going to jump to do a service call for one of your clients unless you a) pay them a hefty ransom or b) they are slow. You can be sure that if they are flush with work your needs will be on the back burner; wouldn’t you do the same?

The bottom line is that the ability to sustain national service will require some type of third party service much like what many integrators did for installations. However, when it comes to ongoing service, the rules are going to have to change a little bit.

If a company really wants to play in the “National” sandbox, they are going to have to figure out how to find a strategic partner that can deliver SLA (Service Level Agreement) quality support on their customer projects AND their ongoing service needs. Now the question becomes, will other integrators or subcontractors do this for integrators or is this going to be something that will continue to be hard to find?

As the conversation and movement toward services becomes more and more within any organization, can integrators afford not to have a strong “service” plan for national customers? If so, what is that worth to your business and what would the service level look like that would make your integration firm happy?

Please chime in or reach out to me directly. I would love to know your thoughts on this!

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