Until recently, most service contract management solutions were reliant upon one primary source of data to perform renewals on expiring maintenance contracts. This source is the entitlement system. Since many service contracts go unregistered, and many of those that are registered are highly suspect as to the accuracy of the information they contain, manufacturers who rely upon the entitlement system alone are at best accessing only a portion of the available renewal opportunity.
To further complicate the situation, data become stale or "in-actionable" over time. Most solutions lack the capability for secure customer interaction or they require manual customer interaction and do not embrace the channel partner. As a result, customers and channel partners cannot effectively update the information with critical adds, moves or changes (MACs), further compromising the value of these "static" systems as time passes and MACs occur. This ultimately results in lost opportunities for renewal.
To prevent such loss, the new service contract management systems available today have the capability to leverage multiple "static" existing systems without disrupting or displacing current systems (such as point of sale systems) or processes, resulting in increased data integrity, more up-to-the-minute information, and ultimately, increased revenues. Further, because these CDI-based platforms provide flexible, automated and dynamic multi-party interaction, they allow the management of each product, service and registration as a transactional/dynamic property. In other words, as changes occur, the system is built to accommodate updates so that the supply and demand chain can stay in synch and on top of their evolving contracts as time goes on.
Access is Key
To serve as an effective tool for behavioral change, a service contract management system must also be ubiquitous: It must be easily accessible and available, and it must be able to serve as a single source of intelligence for the entire supply and demand chain. Portal-based systems offer the ideal platform for ubiquity. They are accessible anywhere and anytime, allowing contract management on an as-needed basis. Further, because portals are hosted solutions, complete with implementation services and ongoing support, activation requires only minimal IT engagement and resources.
Once populated with high-quality data, Web-based portals become extremely effective, providing sales organizations and channel partners with a steady stream of actionable opportunities, while serving as a communications conduit for all parties. Access rights and privileges in a portal-based system can be granted at varying levels and with a range of capabilities tailored to each party. End customers, for example, can take advantage of a portal to balance their own internal systems against those of their suppliers to guard against inaccuracies or misinterpretations of service entitlements. Beyond arming all parties with insight into their entire array of maintenance service contracts, portal systems also can be configured to provide proactive e-mail notifications in advance of expiring services or to deliver notice of other factors affecting service agreements. They can even be built to incorporate market development funds, so that channel partners can clearly understand the potential value of their service sales efforts.
All-important Performance Measurement
No system or initiative is complete without performance measurement. That's why effective service contract management systems must allow manufacturers to gauge success with customers and with channel partners alike at a detailed level. BI reporting capabilities are critical for accurately managing the performance of the supply chain. The best SaaS-based platforms are designed to allow manufacturers to use built-in analytics to measure the effectiveness of their multi-tiered value chain on everything from incentive programs, renewal rates and attach rates, to specific registration rates. This new visibility through the point of distribution can help manufacturers and their channel partners engage with a clear understanding of partner performance and the revenue impact their participation (or lack thereof) has on an organization's service revenues.
Proof Points of Success