Picture This!

Posted by Bill Kazman

Sep 2, 2014 8:00:00 AM

So you’re doing a site survey, installation, or support call and you’re tasked with taking lots of digital photos to document your visit. Photos might include the condition of the site at various locations, physical attributes of locations where equipment may be mounted, condition of wiring closets, type and orientation of racked equipment, building access for lifts and ladders, electrical panels, patch panels, wall construction, ceiling construction, partial or completed installations, and more. The photos are going to be used by remote solution engineers and project managers to create bills of materials, define scopes of work, validate work performance, communicate with their clients, and more.

The Challenge:

You are going to send a gallery of dozens of photos to your client. How can you quickly and easily label and organize them so the client understands what they are?

The Answer:

Before taking a picture or series of pictures of your subject targets, take a picture of a piece of paper in which you’ve jotted down in heavy marker the description of what you are about to take pictures of . . . e.g. "patch panel in manager’s office before install"; "patch panel in manager’s office after install"; "bank teller digital sign – completed install"; "customer waiting area digital sign – completed install"; and so on. Several pictures may follow each “description”. Before you start taking pictures of any target subjects, label the entire gallery with a title description . . . e.g. "Branch 401 Digital Signage installation, 7/20/2014".

This approach adds a few minutes to the total time required for the photo taking, but saves many hours on the back end trying to figure out which pictures are what, and trying to manually sort and rename files after you’ve left the site.

To save even more time, use an e-writer like the Boogie Board shown here.


Topics: technology, Service-as-a-Product, pictures, site survey, photos, documentation, installation

Time-lapse Video of a Video Wall Installation

Posted by Bill Kazman

Aug 25, 2014 8:00:00 AM

They are showing up everywhere . . . tiled arrays of full-size digital displays splashing eye-catching, larger-than-life, motion graphics across walls.

Did you ever wonder what it takes to install one?

Watch iTeam Inner Circle technicians perform an overnight install of a 4x3 video wall in a Fortune 125 corporate headquarters cafeteria.


Topics: technology, digital signage, Service-as-a-Product, installation, video wall

Get a Handle on Customer Experience with Engineered Touch Points

Posted by Bill Kazman

Aug 11, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Every business wants their customers to have a great experience so they tell their friends and come back for more. Every time your business interacts with your customer, you are contributing collectively to their experience . . . from the first marketing communication through the sale, delivery, invoice, and satisfaction follow-up . . . the end-to-end process collectively creates an impression. Throughout this process, every customer touch point --- be it in-person, by email, by phone, or by social networking --- is an opportunity to deliver a great or mediocre experience. An outstanding performance at one touch point can be negated by a calamity at a different touch point.

Engineering your customer touch points provides the opportunity to design, measure, and continuously optimize your customer’s experience.

finger_touch_(touchpoint)Start by making a list of all of the current interactions across your customer lifecycle. Include every step of the process from a quote, to a scheduling phone call, onsite visit, follow-up calls, invoice, etc. Then examine each touch point to assess how it is experienced by the customer and if it is a great experience. Something as simple as a scheduling phone call can be handled poorly or with finesse . . . who is making the call? what are they saying? could they be provided some training or a script that would improve how the customer receives the call? if a call goes to voicemail, what is the follow-up process? if you were the customer, how would you like to be spoken to and pursued?

Performing this type of analysis on every touch point shines a bright light on your customers’ overall experience. More importantly, it gives you the handles to change and improve your customers’ experiences. You can easily identify which touch points are providing a sub-par experience, and make one-by-one changes in delivery process to each. You can close experience gaps in your customer lifecycle by designing and adding new touch points . . . e.g. a how’s-it-going phone call, or project summary email.

Collectively, a bunch of small changes across numerous touch points can dramatically transform the customer experience your business delivers. And knowing and managing your customer touch points gives you the handles for continuous improvement.

Topics: technology, digital signage, Service-as-a-Product, customer service, deployments, touch point, customer lifecycle, customer experience, optimization

Streamline Your Technology Deployments . . . Productize First!

Posted by Bill Kazman

Feb 11, 2014 3:16:00 PM

Productization is typically thought about in the context of making the results of an R&D effort suitable for commercialization --- design for assembly, cost reduction, supplier optimization, manufacturing process design, QA procedures, UI optimization, and so forth.  Product companies allocate many engineering resources and extensive calendar time to bring their products from the lab to their customers. 

So how does this help when you're responsible for rolling out 1000 PC's across your enterprise, or deploying 200 digital signs at all of your retail locations, or hanging 30 projectors across your school campus?

During the specification and planning phase of your project, ask yourself some of the same questions that a product engineer might ask: 

  • How does all of the hardware and software fit together?  Are there alternative components that could simplify or shorten the deployment tasks?Man_and_Lego_Blocks
  • What are the precise steps that must be taken by a field engineer to execute a single installation?  How long does it take?
  • When multiple configuration alternatives exist, what are the best practices and "best fit" for my environment?
  • What skills and knowledge are required by the field engineer?  Is it possible to simplify the field requirements via staging strategies and/or pre-configuration?
  • Can any portion of the field installation be performed remotely?
  • What are the detailed steps to fully validate and document that the installation is complete and fully functional?
  • What are all the possible things that can go wrong during the installation (faulty network wiring, missing parts, physical access denied, . . .) and what is the most effective escalation strategy for each?

Applying the methodical thinking of a product engineer to your rollout projects sets you up for a consistent and repeatable field event with every location installed and tested to your standards.  And at the same time you can get a leg up on controlling remediation situations before they ever happen.

Topics: rollout, technology, productize, digital signage, projectors, PC, field engineer, Service-as-a-Product