There is always a bone of contention when something is not defined. When system integrators blame customer for short-changing service provider, they conveniently forget their own limited communication in the urgency to close the order. The customer is probably not justified in making assumptions, but then, neither are system integrators helpless victims; it is they who chose to be a victim or prepared themselves to be the bait. Reiterating the importance of service catalogue, I bring to fore 1 more best practice every system integrator should implement and practice.
Any IT product or solution requires certain amount of additional services and consultancy to put it to 100% use and reap maximum benefits of product features. Client or user is not aware of most features and also might not know the “best practices” that can help him gallop his business.
We will start at the absolute basics, something probably all system integrators have done in the past if not continuing the same today: a client buying normal desktop PC. Does the client know how many services does the system integrator have to provide for a simple desktop to perform 100%. We attempted to list them:
- Installation of OS Installation and configuration of Anti-Virus
- Implementing company security policies (domain etc)
- Implementing backup policies
- Printers and other peripheral devices configuration
- Migration of existing data from old PC to new PC
- Configuring other software and tools on the same
- Setting up Internet access, emails access, etc.
- Training on use of particular feature or use of software
Most of the times though, customer as well as service provider both do not either comprehend this, or do not communicate well. The service provider thinks that the customer will not pay for services and is probably in a hurry to close the deal so decides to bundle it with the product or wants to take up the same at a later date, leaving loose ends that are bound to create dispute and sour the relations and prospects of new, continued business.
The problem gets compounded when a competitor, not knowing that the services are bundled, provides a quote without services for a lower price. Now the worst part is, customer falls for it. Remember, the customer is not always aware of the pitfall.
Moreover, when purchase officers (procurement dept) are in the fray they try maximum efforts to justify their salaries and thus suck the seller dry of all margins but ultimately the customer loses too, it is not only a disappointment for the system integrator alone. And therein lies the principal cause of problems of IT services industry
I think this is one of the main reasons for problems in IT Industry. As my per HIGH-FIVE strategy, I will give 5 reasons why every service provider should maintain and give “Service Catalogue” to his customer with his every quotation or proposal. This will not only help the service provider, but also the entire industry.
Importance of Service Catalogue
- Capacity Demonstration
- When a service catalogue is provided it a perfect way for the service provider to demonstrate the capacity of his team
- For instance, the customer might have never imagined that branch-to-branch connectivity is possible by doing port forward, until he saw “Port forwarding Charges” in the service catalogue
- Easier to let customer know certain services are EXTRA
- A perfect way to list out things that are not free. When things are free, people tend to ask for more, so if we make them chargeable, demands automatically become reasonable. Eliminates after sales service stress due to clarity at both ends
- It needs to be done anyway
- Even when you do not have and communicate your service catalogue you will have to do that extra work But for ZERO cost, it creates bad relations and decreases the profitability of the seller
- Better quote the customer for what can be done and at what price, rather than doing it for free
- Helps while Bargaining
- Lets face the fact, people like to bargain, as it is, margins in hardware business are wafer thin and we require some buffer to protect us in face of reckless bargaining and cutthroat competition. Service catalogue becomes “THE PERFECT BUFFER” at the client may bargain on services or product or additional services, but never on all three.
- Differentiates us from others
- In today’s world, we have to be different than others, services offered differentiates us from others
Reasons/excuses given by partner and their solutions
- Its ok in your city, but here customers are special
- There is not a single location in India, from where I have not heard this dialogue Everywhere people are same, everybody likes to bargain, no one likes to pay
- Customer will not pay.
- Why ? if you think he cannot afford, just think which car/mobile he uses You might not be able to convince them?
- Not a problem, at least try. You might fail in first few tries, but I bet, in 4/6 weeks, your earnings will improve
- Competition will take the order
- I suggest, let both of them have that experience Few customers may go, I strongly suggest let them go, they do not deserve your professional conduct, nor your services
- Relations will get sour
- If our customers are our friends, don’t we want our friends to be happy. How can they be happy if we don’t provide them good service?
- How can we provide good services, without money?
- Its not practice in our industry
- When most of (us) System Integrators came to business, we were innovators. And now? Where did we drop that hat?
- Why are we now afraid to lay down new system? Lets try this, we have nothing to break, but the mindset.
I feel that change is inevitable in our Industry, lets be part of it.