Aligning Customer Needs Through Seat Based Billing

In my previous posts, we talked about what Seat Based Billing (SBB) is, and why it could be good for your company, but what about your customers?  We need always to remember that our business exists to serve our customers.  For long-term success, our offerings need to be good for and desired by our customers.

What customers want

Many of the things that our customers want are obvious, but not necessarily available with our current programs.

Reduced expenses. One thing that every business tries to do is to manage costs.  The cost of copying and printing is an area where this is especially true.  When they see the monthly bill and the overages in color, it creates frustration with the cost.  It also creates concern because they don’t know how much of those costs are necessary, and how much are employees printing personal documents.

Document security. This concern is becoming more important with increasing attention to privacy regulations and the increase in data breaches.  Several news articles recently have reported government documents getting leaked to the press and foreign agents.  It was possible to track the source of those documents by reviewing the printing logs — this kind of security is important for most businesses now.

Consistent expense for budget. Current CPP programs make budgeting for copy and printing expenses challenging, since those expenses are highly variable.  In most cases, it is not even possible to accurately allocate the charges to the responsible department.

Simple billing. A related issue is a bill that is simple to read and allocate.  For companies with multiple machines, it is time-consuming for the staff to go through the bill, match up the base costs for each machine, and then add in the overages. Also, someone usually has to go to many of the machines, obtain the current meter readings and then relay that to the vendor.  These tasks consume time and energy that could be better spent on other tasks.

Phantom printers. One challenge that affects larger companies is the proliferation of desktop printers that may be connected to a PC directly.  Often these devices are purchased with company funds but don’t go through the normal purchasing process.  Most of these devices have a high page cost.  Additionally, because those devices and the supplies are purchased outside the contracts, the expenses are not easily allocated correctly.

What SBB provides

SBB provides a way to solve the client’s issues and do so in a way that is beneficial to the dealer as well.  Here’s how:

Reduced expense. During the assessment, you will typically discover that users often print documents in color that would be just as effective in black and white.  One area is emails that are text only and count as color pages because they have a hyperlink or some other color text that is not important when printing the document.

A second area where cost reduction may be available is the page cost of many desktops and lower-end network printers. In many companies, this device was purchased based on acquisition cost, with no regard to the cost of operating the device.  By identifying and replacing such devices, you can help the client reduce their expenses.

Rules-based printing allows the client to control what is printed, where it is printed, and whether it is printed in monochrome or color.  This control also helps reduce unauthorized printing.

Document security. Rules-based printing and print auditing solutions allow management to have the detailed records needed to protect against and identify the responsible party in case of security breaches. This software records the documents that are printed, when they are printed, where they are printed and who printed them. It a secure audit trail.

Print auditing software also enables management to review what is printed and identify documents that are printed for personal reasons, which reduces printing and helps reduce costs.

For maximum effectiveness, utilize print auditing software that can identify and track print jobs sent to local printers. This type of software provides the needed security and can prevent end users from attaching phantom devices.

Consistent expense for budgeting. SBB provides a consistent monthly bill that is easily allocated to each department.  Often, one department may expand, and another reduces staff.  SBB simplifies the budgeting process and accommodates the changes.  When a company grows, the typical contract escalates based on the number of users.

Simple billing. Typically, SBB contracts are handled by a leasing company, and at least one and perhaps more bill the client with a single line item on the invoice or the number of seat licenses in use.  The client no longer has to deal with each machine independently; it is just a matter of how many users are in a department.

The print auditing software should have the functionality to provide the dealers with monthly meter readings to keep their records updated.

Phantom devices. The print auditing software and rules-based printing can be configured so that end users cannot print to local devices and will quickly identify any devices so attached.  The result is that the client now has total control over their printing.

SBB – the optimum program for clients

When properly implemented, the components of SBB work together to resolve the major issues listed.  This ensures the optimum outcome for the client.  Additionally, extra services and functions needed by a client can be added into the agreement while allowing them to pay one flat rate per user for all of their printing and application needs.

The next post in this series will discuss the most critical aspect of SBB billing: the assessment and implementation.

Ken Edmonds is a consultant, management coach and service management trainer with 25 plus years experience in the industry. He has had the opportunity to participate in every function inside a dealership, having owned a Toshiba dealership and worked with two different manufacturers as a district service manager. During that time he had the opportunity to learn from and share information with some of the largest dealers in the U.S. He has had the privilege of attending the BTA Fix class two times, the Pros Elite Group Training two times, the Service Managers Achieve Results Through Training conducted by John Hey and John Hansen, and the BTA ProFinance training. He is a noted speaker and contributing editor to multiple publications.