Kiosk Solutions Issue 4 - Page 22

kiosk estate management be able to cover installations, warranty packages and technical services, as well as provide consultancy around issues such as customer care. And it can provide additional support such as helpdesk, a technical telephone service, and technical staff for demonstrating how the systems work to staff. Most particularly, this is also a flexible business resource that allows companies to respond rapidly to changing market conditions, scaling operations up or down as needed without affecting service levels. It releases valuable technical resources for high-end development work, which also means kiosk integrators can direct capital at their core business and free up management time to concentrate on running and growing the company. Customer relations This is all very well, but how does outsourcing your customer-facing activity impact on the relationship you 22 KIOSK solutions have with your customers? Well, if anything, it should enhance it. A good technical outsource team will provide a manufacturer-authorised and accredited service, predicated on delivering the ‘first time fix’ which is desirable for cost efficiency and reputational reasons. There is also a need to consider that around half of the modern service call, whether maintenance or installation, is managing the customer not the technology, educating the user on the best use of the systems they are operating, hence the need for technical staff demonstrations, and taking any uncertainty out of the equation. In other words, product servicing is about people, and every service call should be treated as a ‘moment of truth’ that can either add value, or seriously damage a product/company in an instant. In terms of pre- or after-sales activity, it’s more than just fixing the kit – it’s also how you go about it. An experienced, professional service engineer will understand this. They can act as the eyes and ears of a company, capable of spotting trouble brewing, and (perhaps equally importantly) identifying new business opportunities. Before entering into an outsourced relationship, you need to ask searching questions. You have to ensure that there are agreements in place to protect your business. Senior management has to buy in to the process from the host company, and secondly you need a dedicated project manager to sift out the devil in the detail not only for ‘Go Live’, but on an on-going basis too. Outsourcing can fail when the contract is signed and the host sits back. Experience has taught us that you’ve got to keep communicating, feeding back and refining. Things change and changes need to be factored in, and of course the process must evolve in order to move on. One of the trends in outsourcing is that hosts shouldn’t outsource entire functions – there needs to be an experienced core staff at the host who can manage the relationship on an on going basis. That said, wherever possible, companies should be looking for ‘borderless collaboration’ with their outsourcing partner(s). As take-up for digital signage and kiosk solutions accelerates, customer service will become an increasingly important management issue because of the rising number of installations, and the need to maintain those units already in the field. Smaller, in-house teams could get swamped. Should that happen, companies will have two options: investing and scaling up the team or choosing the more flexible option of outsourcing. n