Guest Blog: The Value of Customer Service in a Technology-Driven World
Access control providers continue to develop innovative new technologies that deliver greater value and control for end users, with products evolving into open platform integrated solutions. Installation has also changed with the introduction of wireless-enabled systems that eliminate many of the limitations of hard-wired access control solutions. As a result, today’s systems are far more complex than in the past and are growing more robust all the time.
But however exciting these advancements may be, technology is only one part of the access control story. Equally important is the customer service that allows end users to get the most out of their systems on an ongoing basis.
All customers want to feel they are important and will seek out businesses that listen to them, take their concerns seriously and do whatever is necessary to make things right. The critical nature of access control makes it extremely important to seek out providers who deliver the most powerful combination of advanced technology and strong customer service.
By evaluating the five main criteria below, installers and end users can easily determine how committed an organization is to customer satisfaction and how available and responsive they will be to their needs.
Every access control installation is different, with at least some variation between locations or applications. Recognizing that off-the-shelf solutions are hardly sufficient for addressing the specific requirements of every installation, customer-focused providers are not only willing, but are also able to accommodate customization.
Smaller providers thrive on customization and catering to users’ specific requirements and their flexibility enables the development of innovative customized solutions much more quickly, often without significant cost increases.
The reality of access control systems is that – like any solution – they require ongoing service and support to provide customers with the continuous, reliable operation they need. Even if a provider promises otherwise, it’s typical for there to be problems (of varying degrees) with equipment, systems and/or functionality in solutions of all types. This is especially true of customized systems, highlighting the importance of post-sale service and support, including having easy access to the provider.
One true measure of a vendor is what they can – and will – do to address and accurately fix any issues in a timely manner. With heavily structured internal protocols, large companies may take longer to fix a problem, often at a significant cost. Smaller, more agile providers can often work closely with a customer to focus on and resolve issues much more quickly and with much less expense. In some cases, the company owner is involved in projects, allowing the customer to deal with the chief decision-maker without wading through multiple layers of supervisory staff.
In today’s connected world, customers have a wide variety of ways to contact a provider, all of which are irrelevant if they can’t actually connect with the vendor. For larger companies, the sheer volume of internal interactions can negatively impact their ability to provide a timely response to important customer issues. Delays compromise security, so customers deserve a specific person they can rely on when they need help the most, often when something goes wrong and requires immediate attention.
The expertise and experience of customer-focused organizations can help end users make better and more confident decisions about an access control installation. Without the layers of bureaucracy and communication barriers typical of larger providers, smaller vendors can work closely with dealers and integrators to quickly and easily design and install the system, integrate it with existing technology or in some cases offer to host the head-end.
Another important factor in delivering a high level of customer service is post-sale training, which is equally important for customers and applications of all sizes. Not only does this allow customers to learn the ins and outs of their specific system, but in-person training also provides them with the opportunity to discuss and ask questions about any concerns or issues related to the product, system or anything else as they go forward.
Maintaining up-to-date training on new and existing products is just as important for enabling installers to provide better customer service. This is particularly true with new access control technologies – including those that are also backward-compatible – which require new techniques to ensure they are properly deployed and are used to their greatest potential. Trained staff will also be confident in their ability to solve a customer problem or be more proficient in installing a solution.
While new and evolving access control technologies will continue to play a key role in the decision-making process for end users, even the most advanced systems require ongoing service and support to ensure their effectiveness. This makes vendors’ ability to provide strong customer service vitally important when choosing a solution. Carefully evaluating providers based on these five criteria will help installers and customers identify vendors that can deliver systems that meet their specific needs and will be available to ensure they are satisfied with their system today and into the future.
Posted by Robert Laughlin on May 24, 2016