Thursday, May 9, 2013

Digital Signage Need to Know: US Based Support for LED Signs is More Than Phones and Technicians



- Scott Hofheins


Having access to local support is important for any electronic device, including LED signs, but getting good support requires more than just being able to call and talk to someone in the US. There are many aspects to supporting LED signs that aren't always just technical. Component control, manufacturing location, software development, documentation, representation, and marketing support are all factors that will affect a manufacturer's performance in this area.


Component Control
Having good quality components is obviously a must in this industry. But maintaining the design and quality control is key to a successful product. No technology is perfect, but how fast can a manufacturer implement a solution to a module design, or driver system? This depends on how much control they have over the components. Skilled in-house engineers and designers will be able to provide better solutions than those who rely on third party support based overseas.


Manufacturing Location
Where is the manufacturer building their systems? Systems that are built entirely overseas will typically take quite a bit longer to produce and deliver to the site. Information about the status of production can be slow and often inaccurate because of the distance, communication barriers, and little oversight of the actual production floor.


Manufacturers who produce in the US and balance their component sources correctly will be much better equipped to provide accurate information. They can also react and improve production processes much quicker than a company who is working with a third party.


Software and Documentation
In-house software development is one of the most underrated aspects of LED signs before the sale, yet becomes a top priority when the sign is installed and ready for use. Unfortunately many end-users are stuck with poorly designed software that is unlikely to ever be improved or updated. This can be avoided when a manufacturer develops the software in-house. The ability to innovate quickly and respond to the market with real solutions like cloud based management, customized solutions, and easy to use interfaces are what help separate the good from the great.


Documentation designed by the same people who manufacture the signs and work with the product directly in real world situations will always be a step above the rest in usability and accuracy. The long term support of an LED sign will often rely on the quality of the documentation.


Representatives
The factory can’t be located everywhere at once, so good manufacturers will have skilled representation across the country to support their dealers and partners. Having a local representative gives you a direct link to the manufacturer, someone you can talk to face to face. This helps close the gap between the manufacturer and dealer, and fosters a better partnership.


These representatives should be able to support you in sales and demonstrations, and be your “go to” people to help close LED sign projects. Having a factory rep and a demo on-site can really make a difference and promote a greater comfort level with potential buyers.   


Advertising Support
Local support means that your manufacturer knows the needs of the US market because they operate in the US Market. They can give you the tools to grow your business and help educate the public to make your job easier. This industry is full of mis-information, but there are good manufacturers out there who can provide you resources that will combat myths and mis-understandings; not just for the good of their products but for the good of the industry in general. Your manufacturer should be your partner in building your business, not just a supplier.


Support is so much more than calling a tech on the phone. The ability to provide quality support is directly related to the control the manufacturer has over their product, software, and people. The business culture of good manufactures promotes the health of their staff, dealers, and partners. They speak your language and have the ability to act quickly to address product, sales, or resource needs specific to you. Always remember, good manufacturers should be just as interested in your success as you are.


-SH


I hope this post has been informative and helpful. As usual, I welcome ALL constructive comments. Please feel free to comment and add anything I’ve missed, or additional tips you may have regarding this topic. Please visit www.vantageled.com for many other resources, white papers, and of course: Great looking LED Signs!

**All posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically stated.

1 comment:

Deacon said...

A few years ago, you could call a support hotline for most large (and even mid-sized) corporations and be fairly certain you were making a 1-800 international phone call to India/China/Philippines or elsewhere around the planet. Lately, there've been several companies bucking the off-shore trend. These companies realize support begins and ends domestically. US-based individuals and companies can better understand the culture, the needs and communicate with the customer-base more effectively.

Scott raises points regarding support being more than a tech phone call, it's about understanding the needs and culture of you customer and meeting those needs. While many people tend to homogenize the USA, we are a complex nation of various cultures, ethnicity and diversified interests. The culture of a region like New England is going to be VASTLY different from that of someone living in the south or the midwest.

Some differences scream out in their uniqueness while many are subtle, but there nonetheless. This is why so many local businesses still thrive against the larger national ones. Big fast food franchises try to "look local" by selling food specific to a region (i.e. Lobster rolls in New England, sweet potato pie in some southern states). These larger corporations recognize they need localized representation to "fit in" and succeed.

When you're up against a bigger national competitor, don't overlook the strength of being local and knowing the market in your area the best. Find partners who understand the value of local as well and work to ensure your brand identity is taken into account. Scott is on the money here. US-based is more than about who picks up the phone.

Great stuff (again) Scott!

Post a Comment