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The Datamax Thinking Blog

Educating, collaborating, and sparking ideas for maximizing the technology that matters.


Achieve Office Equipment Enlightenment by Mastering the Art of Asking Questions

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Is your potential copier provider capable of going deeper with relevant questions? Will their level of service handle the technology burden for you, and enable you to focus on your forte?

Martial Arts expert and movie star Bruce Lee is an unequivocal legend for his physical feats on the big screen. But he also possessed a few philosophical nuggets that packed a real punch.

One example from the former philosophy major turned Hollywood icon? “A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”

Mr. Lee’s wisdom here far exceeds the martial arts arena. After three decades in the office equipment industry serving clients in multiple capacities, I learned that asking a lot of questions when visiting organizations was a necessary key to alignment (and enlightenment) between a client’s expectations and the current level of service provided. While rarely urgent in nature, the steady barrage of inquires helped me:

  • dig into client current (and future) needs
  • discover operational challenges
  • plant seeds of opportunity they were previously unaware of
  • ensure expectations were being met at all times

True alignment comes from collaboration. So not only did I make it a point to ask questions. I appreciated the same from the organizations I served. There are no foolish questions. The only ones that might hurt you are the ones you fail to ask.

It's important to ask questions. A lot of them. Get the service details ironed out to ensure a mutually beneficial partnership between you and your office equipment provider moving forward.

5 Questions that Help Lead to Enlightenment with your Technology Partner: 

1. So what ARE the service details?

The SLA Devil is in the details.

Make certain you have a firm understanding of the details regarding your service contract. For example, am I buying the toner but receiving service for free? What is all-inclusive in the contract? Is there room for elevation or adjustment within the lifespan of the contract term? Have your representative walk you through such details.

Perhaps more importantly, simply ask them “How are you doing?” "Show me the numbers." What metrics and reporting go into measuring service components like “Response Time,” “Response + Resolution” Time, “First Call Completion Rate?” and how willing are they to share this quantitative data with you?

Copiers continue to evolve in complexity and technology around us continues to change the way we work, but the bottom line remains: Statistics show that basic service-related metrics are consistently top among customer wants and needs.

2. How will billing be structured?

Complicated billing never wins new friends in business. Most organizations won’t be willing to pay a bill if they don’t even understand it (and rightfully so).

If you have multiple models of copiers and printers across your fleet, will the click rates vary? Will there be blended rates to essentially have the same base rate for every machine? What about overages? It’s important to know ahead of time how equipment will be billed and essentially how many invoices you can expect, so that reconciling them won’t become a monthly challenge.

The only thing worse than confusing billing is inaccurate billing. Ask ahead of time if Billing Accuracy is something that’s measured internally by a potential provider.

Lastly, meter collection can quickly become a burden for your administrative or IT team if not handled efficiently. Find out how meters will be collected/reported, and who will be receiving them.

3. How are we going to handle toner?

The efficiency of toner management is key to maximizing operational uptime and avoiding ongoing inconvenience. Ask specifically how toner will be managed before moving forward.
Consider your automation options.

By automating low toner alerts across your entire fleet utilizing data collection agent tools, your necessary replacement supplies can be shipped to your location before untimely business interruption. You also eliminate the need to manage and store large, diverse onsite supply inventories.

4. How can you consolidate or “right size” my fleet, now and the future?

Removing a desktop printer from an employee’s desk might initially elicit a “from my cold, dead hands” reaction. But such consolidation comes with good reason.
Proper placement of office equipment can improve productivity and save dramatically on operating costs. Ask your provider to help you identify the optimal locations to place MFPs and printers in your office. And remember, office equipment positioning is a fluid process over time.
Allow your partner to journey with you into your company's print and workflow underworld to identify underlying issues affecting productivity and office equipment fleet performance.

5. What analytic tools are available? Can I justify the cost associated with them?

With increased usage of business analytics, data is readily available where needed.

Clients today have the ability, given the right tools, to review granularly document output across an organization, helping to improve workflow processes and better manage printing practices.

Analytical data collection software can remotely monitor and manage toners and meters. Remote machine diagnostic tools provide technicians key service documentation to proactively expedite service resolution upon dispatch. Robust fleet output management software can provide effective controls over an entire printer, MFP fleet.

But what is a good fit for your organization? How can you measure ROI with these tools and how can you justify costs associated? Make sure that your partner is making you aware of these solutions, and helping YOU make educated decisions as a buyer.

Is your potential copier provider capable of going deeper with relevant questions? Will their level of service handle the technology burden for you, and enable you to focus on your forte?

A great start is a simple game of “20 questions!”

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Topics: Multifunction Copier Digital Copiers Productivity Tips and Tools Office Equipment Technology Pain