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To say that change is never easy may seem like a sweeping generalization, but those of us in the imaging industry know that it can be particularly difficult for businesses that are comfortable with their existing print processes, even if there's room for improvement. It often comes down to control; organizations like to have insight into and control over their print environment. Even though managed print is a relatively mature market, the belief that managed print services means less control has resulted in many businesses that have yet to realize the benefits of MPS.
Persuading them to adopt a manage print solution and change their proven business practices can sometimes be an uphill battle, but once you close a deal you have an opportunity to challenge the status quo and demonstrate that, yes, change can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. By taking a segmented approach to implementation and involving your customers in every step along the way, you can demonstrate that change doesn’t have to be difficult and managed print doesn’t mean a loss of control over the print environment.
Step 1: Post-sale consultation
Perhaps the best-known step in the sales process – the assessment – is an invaluable tool when it comes to implementation. After the initial search to find the right MPS provider, it's important to revisit the results of the assessment. A post-sale consultation will help you identify key areas for improvement and work out some of the finer details that will lead to a successful implementation such as information about the customer’s network setup, machines in field (MIF), business goals, and more.
Steps in the post-sale consultation:
• Collect information about the customer’s IT infrastructure and print environment.
• Identify how implementing MPS will change their current business processes (e.g., billing, supplies fulfillment).
• Help them establish short-term and long term goals, and identify KPIs to track.
Step 2: Planning
The knowledge gathered from the consultation will prove invaluable when it comes time to planning the implementation. To help your customers successfully launch their MPS programs, it's important to have the right people in the right places. They should also know what their responsibilities are as well those of everyone involved in the implementation process. The level of planning involved prior to launch will vary depending on the complexity of the MPS program, but you should have a timeline so that everyone is aware of when specific tasks need to be completed and who owns those tasks.
A service level agreement (SLA) can be hugely beneficial when it comes to communicating responsibilities and timelines with customers to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This is particularly true if the implementation process is lengthy, complex, or involves migration of existing data.
• Ensure your SLA includes information about implementation as well as regular maintenance, uptime and downtime, and support terms.
• Set up regular meetings with your customers and your implementation team to ensure important information is effectively communicated.
• Determine if there is any additional work required for data migration and incorporate this into a statement of work (SOW) or your standard SLA.
Step 3: Implementation
Actually implementing an MPS solution involves more than simply using a remote monitoring tool to access your customer’s device data. In addition to taking care of the technical details to successfully onboard a customer, MPS providers can offer their customers added value by helping them establish new processes for billing, supplies and service management, and other business activities impacted by managed print.
Onboarding and training customers on the solution, providing support when necessary, and helping them through the transition period will not mitigate some of the growing pains businesses can experience during and shortly after implementation. It will also help you build a positive experience for your customers so you are seen as more than a vendor.
• Create an onboarding workflow to ensure your account management team is regularly checking in with new customers to address any concerns.
• Put together a standard training program to educate customers and ensure they know how to use your solution.
• Regularly review and update your onboarding and training to ensure it reflects your solution and continues to meet the needs of your customers.
Step 4: Optimization
MPS is a work in progress; as you help your customers realize the initial benefits outlined in your assessment, you will uncover additional ways to help them streamline and optimize their print environment. They key to checking in with customers to discuss new opportunities is coming prepared. Instead of simply asking them how the solution is working, take a look at the data ahead of time and bring it to the meeting. Are they under- or over-utilizing any devices? Are any devices approaching end of life? Are there any noticeable trends in consumables such as early cartridge replacements? All of this information provides you with touch points as well as opportunities to add value for your customers.
• Set up regular calls or meetings with customers.
• Ensure your account management team goes into calls and meetings with a view into the customer’s print environment. What have they been doing lately that can be improved upon?
• Provide ongoing support and education with regular communications about product updates and new features and functionality to ensure your customers are getting the most out of their MPS solution.
The first step – the post-sale consultation – is perhaps the most important in getting your customers up and running on your MPS program. If used effectively, the information you collect during the consultation can make the subsequent implementation process much easier. You can use this information to avoid surprises and curveballs while getting your customers on board.
Download our free MPS Consultation Package to gather critical information about the initial MPS implementation, supplies fulfillment, meter collection and billing, service management, and more.
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About the Author