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Exclusive: Why RNM is now the backbone of customer service 

Evan Marty, principal product manager at Snap One, on remote network management

Remote network management has rapidly become an essential part of integration projects, providing installation professionals in the security, lighting, smart home and smart business sectors with powerful capabilities to view and resolve minor equipment issues from the convenience of their office, home, or wherever else they may be. The biggest benefit is the most obvious: integrators don’t have to roll a truck every time a piece of gear needs to be power cycled. The full range of benefits, however, is growing every day.

As networks grow in complexity, installations can become cumbersome with each access point requiring individual on-site configuration and updates. Through advanced remote network management solutions, integrators can remotely configure and deliver updates to entire networks with just a few clicks, including setting SSIDs, network names, broadcast frequencies, encryption methods, establishing passwords, priority networks, public networks and more. This can save hours of setup time, and it offers granular control and access for any size system while ensuring customers can leverage all the latest features and be protected by critical security updates.

In order to help save time and simplify setup procedures, remote network management systems are constantly adding more support for third-party devices and protocols, ensuring they provide maximum access to entire installations. With consistent improvements and updates to both capabilities and user interfaces, the latest solutions provide much faster and easier navigation, which allows integrators and staff to respond more quickly to all clients and provide a higher level of customer service and satisfaction.

By adding interface features such as custom groupings for clients with multiple sites, device-specific identification and alerts, and improvements in determining the urgency of an issue, there are far fewer false alarms and more actionable information than ever before. Combined with use-anywhere accessibility through online portals available on mobile devices, modern integrators can provide true 24/7 network management, if they choose to, and can create new revenue streams by charging subscriptions fees for priority remote management services.

Whether a client is two miles away or 200 miles away, they expect and deserve responsive service to keep their critical systems operating. This poses an obvious challenge to integrators who cannot justify sending a truck and a skilled worker on a potentially full-day trip to perform 10 minutes of work. Add the possibility of traffic, the uncertainty of fuel prices, the wear and tear on vehicles and the interruption of more profitable labor, and the costs quickly add up for the integrator, and potentially for the client, too.

Greater insight and system control alleviates all these issues, reducing costs and improving relationships between integrators and clients. In fact, many minor issues can be rectified before clients are even aware they occurred. With so much power to ensure reliable operation, it is more important than ever for integrators to clearly explain these benefits to each client, reinforcing the guiding principles of reliability and ease of use. 

Knowing that talented, experienced staff are an integrator’s greatest asset, remote system management also provides opportunities to improve worker efficiency and effectiveness. The ability to remotely configure and update systems offers greater flexibility in staff management, making it possible to separate installation from programming with more experienced programmers remaining in the office to eliminate extra travel time. 

Posing questions about service interruptions can be an effective way to explain the benefits to clients, such as “what would be impacted if your network went down and we couldn’t respond for eight hours?” or “is your security system able to operate if there is a network issue?” Once they recognise that even a temporary network problem can cause major headaches, many clients understand that a small monthly service fee provides peace of mind and the ability to be hands-off with the technology, knowing that professionals are monitoring and fixing any issues that arise.

As systems continue to increase in complexity, ongoing maintenance and remote services are becoming crucial to maintaining operations and delivering customer satisfaction. Clients who drive luxury vehicles have experts regularly maintain and fix them, and AV systems are no different. In this environment, integration firms that do not leverage remote network management will inevitably fall behind those that do and may lose customers to more responsive competitors.

The benefits grow even more significant when larger issues occur, such as storms or weather events that shutter power and consequently affect entire buildings or networks. In these cases, combinations of site visits and remote diagnostics can greatly improve response time and ensure clients are up and running as soon as possible. 

Like many industries that rely on technology, the future of custom integration systems and services is heading toward ever-more-powerful remote control and troubleshooting that improves reliability, increases customer satisfaction and reduces the burden on integrators to spend time and manpower on potentially unprofitable service calls.