Rules of Engagement for Your Equipment Maintenance Vendor
What do Apple, Android, “The Real Housewives” and “Mean Girls” all have in common? They are all frenemies! Frenemy is an oxymoron of the words “friend” and “enemy.” Everyone has had one of “those” friends, whether you realized it at the time or not. Frenemies are hard to spot at first and can be easily mistaken for a true friendship. While they want to be involved in your life, they are opportunistic and are only in the relationship to try to take advantage of you. Not exactly what a true friend does, right? This type of friendship takes up your most valuable resource … time. So how does having a frenemy relate to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and maintenance contracts? Let’s take a step back and evaluate your current relationship status with your equipment maintenance vendor. If you find yourself answering “no” to any of the following questions, you may be behind frenemy lines.
Do they keep their promises?
One mistake customers tend to make is to accept the salesperson’s verbal assurances and assume that what they have been promised is in the contract. Read your contracts carefully before you sign them. Write down any promises made verbally. It will save you a lot of money and aggravation. If the salesperson inferred that you would receive software upgrades, unlimited training, or priority response times if you purchased the platinum level service contract, it should be clearly noted in black and white in the contract.
Are they respectful?
Disrespect is one of the primary reasons why customers take their business to the competitors. A rude or surly technician can quickly ruin the vendor-client relationship. It is also a clear indication that the service organization does not highly value their clients.
Do they answer their phones?
As a paying customer, there is nothing worse than calling your service vendor and having to leave a voicemail message in hopes that someone will eventually call you back. When you are paying top dollar for a service contract and need to schedule maintenance or a repair, it’s reasonable to assume that someone should be available to answer the phone. Does this company really value your business? Do they care about you as a customer?
Do they keep a positive, helpful attitude?
Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” After the phone is answered to schedule a repair or maintenance on your equipment, you expect professionalism and a helpful attitude on the other end. Basic customer service includes:
When a positive, helpful attitude is shown toward the customer, it is a direct reflection of how important their business is to the company. Does your current vendor demonstrate a positive, helpful attitude when you call to schedule maintenance on your equipment?
Do they respect your time?
Are you waiting a long time for service? You may have paid extra for a guaranteed response time on your service contract, but are you getting the level of responsiveness that you paid for? Mergers, acquisitions and corporate restructuring have forced many manufacturers to reduce their workforces in order to improve profitability. If you find you are waiting weeks to have you equipment repaired, it is likely due to the fact that the service organization does not have enough technicians to accommodate your service area.
Do their employees exhibit good customer service skills?
It’s simple: good customer service keeps customers coming back; bad customer service keeps customers away. Does your vendor exhibit good customer service skills that keeps you coming back? Or, do they do a mediocre job and you seem stuck in the relationship because you are unsure of other options?
Avoiding a Frenemy Relationship
Before committing to a long-term service relationship, research all of your options before purchasing an equipment maintenance service contract. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to get out of a service contract without paying some sort of penalty. Therefore, it pays to look into all of your options before signing on the dotted line. If you are purchasing new equipment, most manufacturers will include a warranty period of up to a year. Use this time to investigate all the options available to you. Most manufacturers will maintain and repair your equipment on a time and materials basis. This might be a good choice for businesses that are looking to reduce maintenance costs and pay for repairs as they happen; however, you may end up paying some pricey, unexpected repair bills. Equipment Maintenance Management Programs (EMMP) offer service options at reasonable rates and can assist with equipment budgeting and planning. Don’t settle for mediocrity! Keep your options open and stay outside of the frenemy zone.
– Shelley Schuster is a Business Development Coordinator at Remi, the alternative to manufacturer service contracts and extended warranties. Remi helps hospitals and other healthcare facilities streamline their equipment maintenance by replacing existing manufacturer agreements with one cost-effective program. To learn more about Remi and the services they provide, visit www.theremigroup.com.
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