The survival of custom integration as a trade might be contingent upon the industry’s evolution into customer-centric service operations with a focus on personalized technology. Thus far, however, custom integrators are experiencing challenges, and in some cases barriers to entry, in transforming their businesses into highly profitable service models.
Industry supplier Ihiji’s own success is dependent upon dealers willing to embrace a recurring monthly revenue (RMR) service model. Through its research, the company discovered that even though the industry is craving RMR and is actively searching for related opportunities, dealers are facing deep and complex issues when it comes to the logistics of adding service agreements and associated tasks to their business models. When the Ihiji team took a closer look, they realized that it was the combination of a lack of refined systems, support documentation, and processes that dealers needed help. Otherwise they would not be able to differentiate and build enough value into their service offerings to convince customers to pay for those service offerings.
Ihiji learned that the biggest barrier for service-minded integrators is finding an efficient way to manage and track service plans. Operationally, they are ready, willing, and able to execute service tasks, but they just aren’t prepared for the ongoing management of recurring revenue service plans. At CEDIA, Ihiji unveiled its ServiceManager Service Operations Center solution, which was designed to address those common problems and to get integrators up and running with service plans quickly and efficiently.
Ihiji ServiceManager is designed to make it easier for users to accomplish all their recurring monthly billing within a single system, automatically.
Bringing this platform to market has been a huge undertaking. For nearly two years, Ihiji expended considerable effort and resources to come up with the right solution from both functionality and usability perspectives. The result, company VP of product Michael Maniscalco says, is both a highly functional and easily deployable solution that addresses the typical problems that dealers face.
First, ServiceManager is brand agnostic, providing a single entry point into all of a dealer’s vendor partners.
“We are taking the concept of brand agnosticism a step further by porting it over to documentation,” Maniscalco said. “No matter where a document is stored (CRM, Dropbox, ERP, Sharepoint, etc.), we provide that single pane of glass to passive documentation. This allows the dealer to access specific documents and quickly and easily make decisions.”
ServiceManager also is designed to simplify customer service. What happens when a client calls into your company but the person they normally talk to is unavailable? Is the person who answered the phone going to be able to speak intelligently about the client’s service records, or is that knowledge stored only in the other employee’s head, cell phone, laptop, or notebook? With ServiceManager, an admin can manage clients on the phone and solve a lot of support headaches, making businesses run much more smoothly while providing prompt and attentive service that results in happier clients.
Ihiji also hopes to make employee turnover less disruptive to integration companies.
“Invariably, when an employee leaves a business, the knowledge about certain clients, sites, and projects goes with him or her, leaving others to scramble to determine the status of service requests, and contact information,” Maniscalco said. “With the documentation features that ServiceManager provides, anyone in your company will have all of the information he or she needs in a centralized and cloud-accessible place, making it easy to deliver the best possible support to clients. This documentation is an important part of a your institutional knowledge and it’s critical to your success.”
ServiceManager has been designed to make it easier for users to accomplish all of their recurring monthly billing within a single system, automatically. And easier billing means bigger profits and a better company value. “By adding monthly service contracts and credit card billing to your company’s repertoire, you increase the valuation of your company,” Maniscalco added.
Many times, dealers are tasked with storing and accessing client passwords for services and networks. Unfortunately, the way in which they store them–whether on an iPhone, Evernote, or whatever system they use–opens the client up to vulnerability. If an iPhone disappears and someone gets into it, third parties now have access to those client credentials. Ihiji ServiceManager addresses this issue with centralized and secure password management.
All of this functionality and more will be included in Ihiji ServiceManager. Users can find all critical client service information from a centralized and searchable support portal, whether it’s service-level agreements, device and network documentation, recent client activity, ticketing, passwords, or customer contact information.