by Sarah Custer | 3/2/16
Even with all their virtues, MPS engagements can sometimes cause pain for those involved. Maybe it’s a painful process for your staff. There could be inconsistencies or service gaps for your customers. There may even be pain imposed by your business partners. Almost every reseller has certain vendor obligations they must meet, whether to manufacturers, remanufacturers, software providers, ERPs, and so on. Those obligations can often overcomplicate solutions or processes that should otherwise be simple for the reseller and their customers.
I thought about logistical issues recently when my husband and I decided we need to get back in shape. We were never frequent visitors to the gym but always lived a very active lifestyle with many outdoor activities and hobbies that kept us fit. Two beautiful daughters later, we were finding it very difficult to make time for those activities. So, we started weighing our options. One route was a gym membership. A nice gym with fancy amenities and child care services seemed like a good fit, but further investigation proved childcare hours were limited and wouldn’t always work with our busy schedules. Additionally, we realized the best time to fit in a workout would likely be early when our kids are still asleep or during naps on the weekends. Then, the St. Louis winter kicked in and we recognized what an additional pain it would be to bundle the kids up and go out in the cold just to get on the treadmill for 30 minutes.
It’s a battle in and of itself to dedicate 30 minutes to an hour to exercise. Adding further logistical pain doesn’t help the cause. The same holds true for your MPS program. It is hard enough to get customers to change their internal processes and procedures, or even worse, make everything fit into multiple vendor programs, forcing them to be inconvenienced by factors they can’t control.
Here are examples of where your “MPS baggage” could be negatively affecting your customers:
- Customers are forced to follow completely different procedures for local devices (or no procedure at all) versus networked devices.
- Customers are forced to follow completely different procedures for printers versus copiers.
- Customers using devices from more than one manufacturer are forced to follow different procedures based on manufacturer.
- You are able to deliver a better experience on brands that are not your core versus your main line due to stocking or other quota requirements.
If your program has one or more of the inconsistencies outlined above, it’s likely causing pain both internally for your organization as well as for your customers. The worst part is that the pain to the customer is for reasons that are completely irrelevant to them. When was the last time you willingly participated in something that was difficult for you and for no apparent reason?
So what did we choose for our exercise option? We ended up purchasing a rowing machine. It’s small enough to fit in our bedroom and easily folds up to save space. We can take turns waking up early while the kids are still snuggled in bed and get in 30 minutes on the rower. The other major benefit is it’s an amazing full body workout, taking care of both cardio and strength building in one fell swoop.
Build your MPS program to be more like a rowing machine. Look for tools and programs that are flexible enough to cover all the major brands, options and obstacles found in your customers’ environment. Make it so they can just get up, get on the “rowing machine” and get the job done. Behind the scenes you or your MPS partner(s) should be able to handle the moving pieces – don’t make it more complicated or painful than needed, otherwise your customer may question their investment.
Sarah Custer is director of services and solutions, Supplies Network. She joined Supplies Network in 2001 and has held several positions over the years. In her current position, Sarah leads a team of MPS solutions advisors, equipment advisors, contract coordinators, fulfillment analysts and a technical operations team focused on break-fix service and software solutions. Additional responsibilities include providing critical direction and design of program enhancements and vendor integrations.