As an owner of Novotech, I love small businesses. Don't get me wrong, some of the biggest customers we have are Fortune 500 customers, and we love them too.....but, as a person who prides himself on maintaining a strong level of entrepreneurial spirit, I like to root for the "little guy".
One of the ways that smaller companies are able to compete against the big boys is to use the advantages that being a smaller company offers.
M2M solutions have a dual advantage for smaller companies because they are able to provide efficiencies in business to take costs out for small businesses (negating the "size" advantage of larger companies) while allowing them to provide services that aren't traditionally available from businesses of their size.
Here is how M2M solutions help the "little guy" compete in a world of giants:
Issue #1 - Higher servicing costs
Many smaller companies have issues servicing their customers in ways that many of their bigger competitors can. It may be that the larger company has a larger overall team (which means less travel for faster response times and being able to handle larger jobs) or it may mean that the larger company has more specialists at its disposal (to handle more higher level issues for reduced downtimes).
Solution - Eliminate the mundane
The vast majority of service calls are for things that are easy to solve, such as simply rebooting a device. By allowing your customer service teams to have better access to remote equipment, they can handle simple tasks such as updating firmware or resetting a device without dispatching a technician. Better yet, most advanced M2M solutions allow for real-time reporting to let your team know of an issue, often before the customer is even aware.
This allows your "top guns" to focus on higher level tasks, improving your "top level coverage" while allowing your service teams to cover more customers per person.
Issue #2 - Lack of customer service resources
It seems that large companies have an endless supply of customer service people. Sure, they aren't always effective, but they are able to throw a lot of resources at issues, where smaller companies have very small customer service teams.
Solution - Eliminate issues before they happen and improve FCF
FCF (or First Call Fix rate) refers to how often a Customer service rep is able to fix the customer's issue on the initial call. It can vary in some areas....it may be very high if the resolution is often something that can be done by the consumer or it can be very low if most calls result in a service call.
One of the issues today for many large companies is that their Customer service teams often have little access to remote pieces of equipment and if they do, it generally is not in real time. As such, they are often unable to help the customers with any diagnostics, resulting in an expensive service call.
Smaller companies are often using their nimbleness to their advantage. Through the use of M2M solutions, many smaller companies have been quick to provide their CS reps with real time access to diagnose issues. They are able to see the status of the device and make decisions in real time. Even if they are unsuccessful in repairing the issue, they are able to provide diagnostic information to their remote service counterparts, who can often show up on site with the required parts and tools.....reducing downtime and the length of service calls.
Issue #3 - Lack of pricing flexibility
Most big companies tend to be very flexible in how they price things.....NOT! While they may be flexible in providing lower pricing based on volume purchases, they tend not to be too flexible in HOW it is billed. It is generally a fixed price for a product, whether that is a one-time purchase or leased, and the price tends to be based on a pre-set criteria (and not customized).
Solution - Use M2M to improve pricing flexibility
Smaller businesses, for the most part, tend to be very entrepreneurial. This means that the main goal is often to remove complexity and increase the value that is offered to customers to maximize profitability.
Many smart business owners are using M2M data to be able to be much more flexible in their dealings with customers. It may be that they offer a better rate based on lighter than expected usage....it may be that they are flexible enough to offer a lower lease rate / higher trade-in value based on less than expected usage....it may be that they offer a lower rate for customers who use services after hours. Regardless of how this data is used, small businesses are able to move quicker than large ones to provide more options to their customers, allowing them to customize a solution offering.
Issue #4 - Being "cool" yet professional
When you think of many start-ups, you think of the unique things that they have in their office. Whether they have an office pet (usually a cat or a dog on the reception counter), a large ping-pong table in the board room or often sound like they "aren't in it for the money", most start-ups seem like they would be much "cooler" to do business with. Having said that, in the world of business, buying something that is "cool" is often a way to get fired, assuming that it doesn't have the quality or usability that is expected for that product. People like to buy from professionals for business....
Solution - Be "cool" in cutting edge ways
As such, many small companies are forced to lose their "coolness" in order to land some of the biggest accounts, which means that they are forced to abandon one of their strengths. M2M solutions allow for companies to be cool, but in a different way.
It still amazes me how I find the smartphone based check-out at the Apple store to be cool......considering that I have been in this space for decades. Using M2M solutions allows for a company to stay on top of the latest trends and offer their customers cutting edge solutions. While it may not be as cool as a ping-pong table, M2M solutions allow for smaller companies to maintain their professionalism while still being on the cutting edge......and, that is cool.
Hats off to all of those who have ventured into the world of entrepreneurship....you are the life blood of our economy. Using M2M tools will allow your company to compete in any market while allowing you to keep your cool factor and the advantages of being a small business.....it is a must have. Let us help you grow your business!
As always, let Novotech know how we can help with your M2M needs, such as antenna selection. Browse our website @ www.novotech.com. As well, feel free to reach out to me directly ....larry(@)novotech.com. You can also follow us on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) and you can follow me personally as well (@LBNovotechM2M).