Retailers often forget about their in-store technology until something goes wrong. By which time, getting it fixed is a serious concern. Here are a few tips to ensure your IT equipment is as free from risks as possible.
With the UK in recession and unemployment topping two million, the hospitality industry needs to ensure they are able to attract and keep customers. Richard Olds, CEO at Vista Retail Support, says that reliable EPOS systems play an important part in maintaining customer satisfaction.
In today’s tough economic climate, it is essential that any business makes the most of its assets. IT and EPOS are no exception. Companies within the hospitality sector need to ensure that they are getting maximum value for money from their investments and they also need to show that the customer experience doesn’t become affected by technology failure.
The customer service experience in the hospitality industry is key to getting customers to return time and time again. However to build this type of rapport, the experience stretches beyond how staff serve their customers.
Finding a long-term partner
Consumers expect a seamless customer experience and any delays at the time of purchase can spoil the event. Maintaining your EPOS technology can be problematic at the best of times. However, in a food or drinks based environment there is an even greater opportunity for problems to occur with damage resulting in unwanted downtime.
This is where the role of the EPOS support provider comes into its own. Historically, these organisations have been seen as a “necessary evil” to players in the hospitality sector. However as the need to prolong the life of the existing EPOS investment and the tightening of corporate purse strings bites, the need to have a dedicated partner who understands the hospitality is becoming essential.
Organisations are often wary of signing for long term agreements as they feel it will limit the opportunities for change. However, businesses should look to work with a maintenance partner who can look after the existing EPOS infrastructure, but also, when the time is right, advise on new technology, plan and implement future roll outs and is able to maintain mixed product estates.
The cost to a business of having an EPOS position down varies dramatically depending on the circumstances of each organisation. For example, if a large corporation has one lane down it may be an irritant, the business can still trade and the customer experience isn’t affected. However for a company with limited EPOS, the cost of not having a functioning EPOS position can be catastrophic. Not only do customers not make purchases on the day but often they will never return.
Time is of the essence
Maintenance providers should tailor their agreements to suit your needs. Fast fix times, as short as four hours, are available to the businesses who will have limited or no check out capability if their EPOS system is down. While eight hours or next day fix agreements are available to companies who are able to stand having an EPOS position down for a little longer.
Professional providers will also suggest a structured preventative maintenance plan. This works on the basis that it’s better not to have an EPOS position unavailable at any time during trading hours. Testing and replacing high risk components at a time that won’t affect trading is by far a better plan than reacting to a failed EPOS position during a busy holiday season.
There’s a good chance that, no matter how hard you try to ensure uniformity, that you’ll have a mixture of hardware across your estate. You need to ensure that your maintainer has the ability to work with the whole range of hardware suppliers. Rather like financial advisers, you should endeavour to ensure they are independent, this ensures any future recommendations are based on you and your customers needs and not the providers factory production.
For any business that plans to grow, the EPOoS estate must be running at all times and can ill afford downtime. It’s important that retailers discuss requirements, in detail and in advance, to control their maintenance and long term costs. For example, the cheapest deal up front can often cost more in the long run. The maintenance provider should be able to advise a business on when to replace or hold off and refurbish instead. Players in the hospitality industry need to choose relevant cover focusing on peak periods in the year. This is achieved by using mixed service delivery models and flexible service level agreements.
By working with an expert, organisations can ensure that EPOS downtime is kept to a minimum by regularly having their EPOS serviced and reducing the risk of system failure.
A reliable EPOS system will leave staff free to concentrate on customer focused activities. It will also enable businesses to reduce waiting times and make sure customers are served quicker and more efficiently. This ability to offer customers a better service experience could be a differentiator in this increasingly competitive environment.