Serving it up

Service and support are key elements in any enterprises and crucial to the long term success and productivity of an organisation. In the Middle East, however, there is a sense of dissonance between what the end-users require and that which the vendors deliver.

  • E-Mail
By  Sean Robson Published  August 26, 2008

Service and support is a notoriously sticky issue in the region with vendors and users squarely aligned on opposite sides of the net.

From an end-user perspective the issue at hand is simple. They desire quicker, cheaper and more efficient service. They do not see why they should have to pay for the so called ‘premium’ service after already spending a considerable amount of money on the actual hardware.

Many users contend that while the initial promises regarding the implementation and operation of the products are delivered on they are not getting long-term service satisfaction. They want vendors to fulfil their needs beyond the understandings reached in the contracts and agreements.

From a vendor’s angle things are a little different. Labour and after-sales service does not come cheap and often at times they feel, they are being taken advantage of.

Vendors find that managing the expectations of their end-users is frequently the single biggest sticking point in the service and support machinery. From customers who place undue emphasis on relatively unserviceable products to users who don’t place enough emphasis.

Cost is also an issue upon which the two sides come to loggerheads. For the vendor it makes perfect sense to ask a premium price for a premium service while the user does not always believe that the extra cost is proportionate to the support received.

The size of the region rears its head in the service and support debate as the speedy resolution of problems is complicated by distance. Vendors have a tendency to overextend themselves and so may find themselves hung out to dry when multiple issues need attention at multiple sites.

Service and support is essentially about loyalty and dedication. Loyalty to the vendor, to the end-user and to the product. With vendors often times working through a partner network it is critical that the expected high level of service is communicated to the re-sellers in order to ensure that services don’t take a dive.

However, there is a light on the horizon as the two sides begin to reach mutual agreement and educate each other. End-users are making their expectations known at the outset of a project and insisting that agreements be drawn up as such. On their part, vendors are demonstrating to prospective clients exactly what bang their buck essentially buys. Some of the more forward thinking players are even setting up training programmes for their users in order to make them less reliant on the services.

One user described in a recent interview with this journalist how setting realistic goals and making them known from the first had yielded an unexpected bonus. The stringent service and support requirements he was asking for meant that the usual gaggle of bidders was whittled down to those vendors who really could meet his demands.

Although vendors and end-users often disagree on the extent and structure of service and support, they concur when it comes to the importance they place on it. Service and support is not a one-way street. It requires both the vendor and end-users to come to an understanding of what is required, what is expected and ultimately what will be delivered.

Sean Robson is the assistant editor of Network Middle East.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code