Four Hour Support for On-Site Service "Does it Really Mean Anything Anymore?"

Just a short note here.

It's COLD here in NJ, going down to 9 degrees or so tonight. At the dinner table tonight my wife told about the Church furnace that had malfunctioned today.  Morning Mass meant no heat.  MY wife call the service provider that they use for heating and cooling after she arrived at work.  MY wife then stated that the service provider was there by 11AM ish, the furnace needed a part and the cost for that part was $1,300.  She thought the part may have been pricey but then also stated, "you pay for good service".  Which got me thinking about service.

The furnace in the church needs to be fixed right away, there is no other furnace that they can turn too. The rapid response rate and the fact that the furnace was jury rigged to work that day, made the vendor a hero and a trusted vendor.  The price of the $1,300 for the part did not make anyone's eyes blink.

Ok, I understand and that all makes sense.  Good service, knowledge and rapid support is something you pay extra for.

Let me back track to the mid Eighties in the copier industry please.  Most SMB companies had one or maybe two copy machines then.  Laser printers were just starting to populate Enterprise accounts.  Thus, for most companies they relied on that one copy machine to make copies of every document that made it's way to that company. If the copier went down, work stopped, and that SMB company was then losing money because the copy machine was an integral part of the way that company did business.  Rapid service and support from a copier dealer was a critical buying factor for most companies.  I can remember carrying a book of references from other companies that touted how fast and great our service is.  The dealers that had the fasted service response would usually seal the deal with the account.

Fast forward today and many of us in sales are still touting that rapid response for on-site service. Our industry has excelled in automating the process for getting a service engineer on-site in four hours or less.  Matter of fact, most of my competitors offer this and deliver on the promise of on-site support in four hours or less.

The one thing that has changed from Eighties is that most companies now have more than one device that can make a copy, and make a print. I see it, you see it, there is a crap load of small A4 MFP's and printers that have made their way to almost every desk or every workstation in the office.  Redundancy for printing or copying is alive and well in most offices.

I think about value for companies, what's the added value for doing business with us?  Does the client value fast on-site support for copiers aka MFP's anymore?  Why would they when they have other devices in the office that can print (hardly no one copies anymore).  If the main copier goes down for a day or so, is that really a big deal anymore, especially when the client has multiple devices that can print the volume in a pinch?  Getting right down to it, the client could go to the local office supply store and buy a small MFP for $400 or so, if they are in a pinch.

If I put my-self in the place of the buyer, I'm hard pressed to decide that I should pay more dollars for a company that has the faster response time.  There's no value because I have other devices that I can use when needed.

As sales people we always look to add value to the products and services that we sell. I'm just not convinced that todays buyers find fast on-site service a reason to pay more.  

I just wanted to put this out their to our P4P community and would like to hear from others on this.


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