As a dealer representing one of the three Canadian postage machine manufacturers one of the questions we answer for clients is why they should work through a dealer rather than do a deal direct with a manufacturer.
We know our service and support is more personalized than that of the manufacturers, even our own brand. This should be natural since we service a smaller territory as the manufacturers are national in focus.
A recent situation with one of our clients proves the point of how our service can be more focused.
In this situation a client had recently had a large postage meter installed by us and our manufacturer. This public facility has a substantial mail volume and much of it is time sensitive.
Due to the size of the deal and the nature of the use our postage client support person involved our dealer representative from the manufacturer in the sales process to ensure that everyone was on the page with the deal. The new device was installed, the client trained and all seemed to be going well.
Until early last week when the postage machine stopped printing and showed an error code related to the print tank. Not a problem, call support and get it resolved. But the client called the manufacturer (they had the dealer rep's card and called him) and instead of referring the support need to our local support office the manufacturer's rep decided to deal with the problem in house. Shouldn't be a problem, right, after all their the pros!
Well on Monday this week we got a panic call from the client asking if we could help. It appears, as we investigate, that the ball got dropped big time in the manufacturers office with a number of people handling it but no one resolving the problem. Meantime the client is down for four days and no mail is flowing as the unit is offline.
Our client support person immediately gets on the phone to the manufacturer and finds out the problem has been diagnosed to be a defective print tank but none has been shipped as of Monday am. When our client support person enquires what is being done to get the print tank to the client that day, the first answer is it will be shipped next day delivery.
This offer is rejected by our person, demanding that a faster response be put in place and after several conversations a service technician is dispatched with the print tank and ready to do any other repair if needed. By late afternoon all is well and the client is up and running again.
So why the differential in response:
As a dealer we are closer to our clients. They are not numbers in a big data base, but individuals with individual needs.
Manufacturers covering a territory as large as a country or continent invariably get distanced from the specific needs of clients. They see similar issues daily and start to treat each support call as a routine instance.
For clients their support call is unique....each and every time, and a four day response to be in place for what seems like a routine support need is not acceptable at anytime.
Dealer support personnel tend to get much more closely connected to their clients. They are usually more accessible and see the actual client environment more often.
Dealers fight hard to win clients and tend to fight much harder to keep them.
Dealer principals are much closer to their clients than the manufacturers. Dealer principles are accessible to their clients as well.
So would things have been better in this place if the initial call came to us as the support team than to the manufacturer. The simple answer is yes.
So what happens from here?
First we have informed the client, again, that their first call for support should come to our support desk as our resources are more local and better able to respond. They know from the response to this case that we will act to get things sorted for them quickly.
Second the manufacturer is looking at their response mechanisms to see how the ball got dropped.
Third we will reinforce to all of our clients that our primary focus when they need support is to get them running quickly and effectively. Are we perfect? Probably not, but we can darn well try to be.
How is your support for your postage equipment? Does your supplier respond as fast as you think they should? Have you comparisons between dealer response and manufacturer response?
Its your turn to share your thoughts below....
Full Disclosure: Leppert is a dealer for Francotyp-Postalia Canada
Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Another_Believer