When Today's Tech-Fueled Stores Meet Yesterday's Silo'd Support and Maintenance

23 Jul 2019

The CIO at a major specialty retailer has a bold prediction: In six months he will be approached for interviews and be invited to sit on industry panels because of a bold idea he had that ended up paying big dividends. The big, impactful decision? Combining maintenance, help desk and repair into one. Making that move can reduce the number of repair incidents by as much as 20%.

Old Approach Meets New Technology

Most retailers still rely on old paradigms when it comes to keeping store tech running: a help desk to cover both store operations procedures and technical issues, a maintenance company to handle site visits, and a vendor to handle depot repairs.

That worked well when stores ran POS systems and not much else. But today, the number of devices in store is exploding: mobile devices, kiosks, digital signage, IoT devices, and on and on. Not only are there a lot of devices, but they become part of an increasingly complex in-store tech stack. Some of them even interoperate. When something goes wrong with a piece of those technologies, the old approach reveals its flaws:

  • Help desks, operated by former store staff, are unprepared for a spike in technology-related calls. They run through a few basic scripts that often don’t correctly diagnose the problem, and then quickly order repairs or a truck roll.
  • Inexperience with diagnosing complex performance failures leads to, for example, a mobile device being shipped to a depot for repair when the issue was really with the network, or ordering Part A when Part B was needed.
  • Since the help desk and in-store service and maintenance are performed by different providers, no one is working proactively to spot trends and develop preventive strategies.
  • Because help desk staff is not technical and turnover is high devices are more likely to get sent for warranty repairs that turn out not to qualify for warranty coverage, incurring costs and lost time. Warranty terms do not apply to the vast majority of store tech repair incidents because they typically do not stem from a manufacturing defect.
  • All those issues lead to cascading costs: excess repairs, truck rolls, parts orders, reshipments, revisits and more time when assets are down, and not delivering on their mission.

Here’s what that CIO realized: When help desk, maintenance and repair services are all linked together, those issues are minimized or avoided altogether. Technically skilled help desk techs are more likely to diagnose incidents quickly and accurately the first time, getting more devices back in service without any extra costs.

For items that need hands-on attention, they are much more likely to make the correct call on whether it needs repair, warranty or on-site services, and order the right parts the first time. They can coordinate multiple calls together, so when trucks do roll, they work more efficiently. And they are more likely to spot systemic issues and get to the root cause faster, devising preventive steps to head off future costs.

Getting There

Step one in tackling the waste and excess costs that come from throwing too many tech issues at help desks set up for general store support is to add technical expertise. When stores call in with issues, those related to store technology can be diverted, via automated prompt or through agents, to a tech help desk provider with the right tools and expertise. That will significantly improve accuracy and efficiency in getting technical problems addressed right the first time.

Integrating technical help desk services with maintenance and even depot repair drives greater savings and efficiency. Providers like Level 10, with all of those capabilities, operate those services via a shared platform, so all activity is planned and executed in a coordinated way: The help desk determines that a kiosk needs a part, places an order for a correct item, and sets up a truck roll that will also include other repair and maintenance tasks needed at that location.

When help desk, maintenance and repair functions share a decision tree and a unified solution, workflows operate seamlessly, driving costs and time out of repair processes. Retailers using a seamless, expertly managed solution rather than a fragmented internally managed solution:

  • Increase the first call diagnosis rate by getting it right the first time
  • Spend less money on site labor
  • Lower freight costs
  • Reduce revisits and reshipments
  • Avoid unsuccessful warranty claims
  • Get store tech assets back up and delivering results much faster

That specialty retail CIO saw that the number and complexity of store technologies would only continue to rise, quickly overwhelming traditional, silo'd approaches to help desk, maintenance and repair. By blending them into a seamless, unified solution, he could save money at the same time he kept more equipment in service, supporting the customer experience ― and sit on a lot of industry panels, explaining how he racked up such big rewards.