Service and support: the role of the manufacturer1 December 2015
Having previously outlined the growing importance of service and support within the AV industry, Ian McMurray looks at the role of the manufacturer in providing some services and product-specific knowledge.
Of course, it’s not just integrators who are in a position to offer services: manufacturers are equally well placed. Jammie Proctor, engineering service manager at NanoLumens, picks up on the warranty theme.
“The NanoLumens service, support and field engineering team provides a full set of service and support systems,” he says. “The base of this service and support system is a six-year parts warranty. Along with that, NanoLumens provides extensive partner training both as a full certification programme in-house as well as on-site supervision and training during the installation process.
“Our primary focus is to get our certified partners to a level that they can provide full technical support and service offerings to their client base with the confidence that they have our service team at the ready if they require,” he goes on. “However, there are some providers that prefer to have a manufacturer provide service-level support on specialty products, and because of this we are happy to offer full service-level support options to our partners.”
More revenue and profit
Crestron too offers a full range of support services including training, education and technical support.
“Crestron only sells through its channel so everything we do is done to help our integrators derive more revenue and profit from the solutions that we offer,” says Steven Dullaert, the company’s director of customer support, EMEA. “Our range of support services enables our integrators to differentiate themselves from the competition and helps them to fully support their end clients to encourage repeat business.”
Between manufacturer and integrator, there is often a distributor such as Midwich. How does Midwich see its role?
“The role of distribution is much more than ‘box shifting’, product availability, logistics and credit for resellers and integrators,” believes Jon Dew-Stanley, Midwich’s director of solution sales. “Added value services are an essential characteristic required by the market from a successful supplier. Working in partnership is the key. Being trade-only truly enables us to work with and support our channel partners, making us more valuable in delivering the same goal.”
For the most part, it seems that manufacturers, distributors and integrators happily co-exist and collaborate when it comes to the provision of end-user support and services.
“We work closely with a number of the industry’s leading manufacturers,” notes Terry Wilson, commercial director at integrator AVMI. “These partnerships result in complementary rather than competitive relationships. We believe a relationship with an AV service provider offers users the opportunity to consolidate support across a number of products rather than having a plethora of bilateral engagements.”
“End users want the confidence that the manufacturer is involved with their particular solution, but prefer to have the actual responsibility to have service provided by the integrator,” echoes Gareth Lloyd, marketing manager at integrator Saville. “Manufacturers do not tend to have the intimate insight or resources to deal with end-user needs that an integrator does. A seasoned integrator has the necessary expert technical knowledge – and can always refer directly to the manufacturer if necessary.”
“Manufacturers can only provide support for their own equipment,” asserts Roland Dreesden, managing director of Reflex. “Most solutions will include a variety of products and brands – so while the manufacturer’s warranty is invaluable, as soon as one product is connected to others, lines of responsibility start to blur.
“And of course,” he continues, “for most customers it’s much easier for them to speak with their local integrator, who has installed their system and knows it inside out, rather than try to access support from the manufacturer directly.”
“Because we have installed the equipment we feel that we are the best people to provide the support to go alongside the installation,” smiles CDEC managing director Toni Barnett, while Adrian Edwards, customer services director at proAV, notes that his company generally integrates manufacturer support products within proAV’s service products to enhance its offering and to provide the client with a single solution provider.
That integration between manufacturer and integrator is central to Crestron’s philosophy.
“Crestron offers a full range of support services including training, education and technical support and works with its partners to ensure that the end client is fully supported,” says Dullaert. “We have a vast network of thousands of trained and certified engineers, technicians, designers and consultants ready to assist customers who are available 24/7 and ready to be on-site, anywhere in the world, if needed. This service is offered free of charge to both Crestron’s integrators and their end clients, giving our integrators a huge advantage. We train our partners to be the best with a comprehensive certification programme that ensures flawless implementation and the highest-quality support.”