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New Western European serviceability study reveals key trends

Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends conducted an online survey of 113 Western European office equipment dealers and IT resellers knowledgeable about technical service and support for A3 MFPs

The survey was focused on A3 MFP serviceability, or the degree to which the servicing of these devices can be accomplished with given resources in a specific time frame. In order to qualify for the survey, channel partners had to sell and service A3 MFPs and be knowledgeable on technical issues. Keypoint Intelligence InfoTrends surveyed a mix of company principals as well as sales and service managers from dealerships across the UK, Germany and France.

Servicing in context
On average, respondents reported that break-fix/maintenance makes up 34 per cent of their revenue. This figure was highest among the largest of companies (100+ employees), which likely reflects the greater complexity of their print device infrastructure as well as a higher incidence of contractual services. Respondents leading with Lexmark products had the lowest servicing share, while those leading with Toshiba devices reported the largest share.

Satisfaction levels
The survey asked respondents to identify the main brand they sell and rank that OEM in five areas of serviceability: service components offered (training, warranty program, help-desk, service diagnostic tools); support materials (documentation and predictive analytics); ease of service (time required to service, time required to get familiar with the device); service tools (set-up, firmware upgrades, ongoing software maintenance); and reliability (machine reliability, out-of-box reliability, planned duty cycles).

Respondents were most satisfied with the reliability of the devices as well as the service components they are receiving. They were least satisfied with the service tools. Despite the overall level of satisfaction, the fact that just 30-40 per cent report their vendor as excellent in most areas suggests room for improvement.

Areas in need of improvement
When asked about the top areas they’d most like to see improved regarding their main brand, the top response was ease of service (60 per cent) followed by support materials (58 per cent) and reliability (54 per cent).

The top response suggests that there are engineering changes that can be made to A3 MFPs to make them easier to fx. Or it could be that better training could improve the perception of a device’s ease of service, especially when considering support materials is also an important need.

Responses were fairly consistent across company size categories, though it’s worth noting that service components was a relatively popular choice for companies with 26-100 employees. It appears this group could especially benefit from improvements in areas like training, warranty programs, helpdesk and service diagnostic tools. That said, with the bulk of European Union businesses in the 1-19 employee company size category (97 per cent), a special emphasis may be placed on the needs of smaller companies.

Opinion of third-party toners There’s a fairly even breakdown of respondents who view third-party toner as mostly comparable, sometimes comparable (depending on the model), or inferior to OEM product.

Respondents are somewhat more likely to consider third-party toner sub-optimal from a quality perspective. The largest of channel outlets (100+ employees) are least likely to view third-party toner as inferior to OEM products. The responses are highly similar for black and white devices, suggesting that quality concerns are not limited to colour quality.

On the whole, they were most likely to say that third-party toner does somewhat decrease machine reliability and increases maintenance requirements, but the other cost savings of toner make it worthwhile.

Responses were fairly similar across devices types (A4 and A3 mono and colour), though the smaller the company the more likely the third-party toner was to have a significant impact on long-term reliability and maintenance requirements.

Relevance to other research
A 2017 SMB and enterprise survey of Western European IT decision-makers showed that compatible A4 supplies are most likely to be considered as good as the OEM product while costing less (34 per cent). Another 23 per cent acknowledge that third-party supplies are inferior but worth the lower price; and a separate 17 per cent have no opinion or don’t use the type of device mentioned. Just 26 per cent say that OEM cartridges provide the best overall value vs. compatible toners.

Other relevant findings from the 2017 study included:

Service requirement was selected as the number three future buying criteria for printers/MFPs (out of 17 possible responses)

Service turnaround time was the number two area in need of improvement in printing environments (after usability)

Break-fix/maintenance continue to play an important role for Western European office equipment outlets as well as customers. While these organisations are fairly satisfied with the servicing resources provided by their OEM partners, they do believe there’s room for improvement. This includes enhancements around the ease of servicing as well as support materials like documentation and predictive analytics.

While the channel acknowledges that third-party toner can have a negative impact on quality, device reliability, and maintenance requirements, it appears overall it believes this impact is worth the lower price of third-party supplies.

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