Supporting Office Technology Providers Through New Working Environments in 2021

The year 2020 has been one of change, shifting and creativity. Although no one could have predicted all that has happened, there have been lessons learned to help pave the way going forward, accelerating trends and ways of working. One positive aspect that we have seen is that businesses across the globe have embraced new opportunities, technologies and ideas over the past few months, allowing them to optimize business growth and rethink what’s possible for 2021. Creativity and adaptability have become increasingly more important to meet the changing needs of customers and shifting industry trends.

QR code with savvy businessman

Following are four key areas for office technology dealers to focus on for success in 2021.

Enhance customer service and support

It’s no secret that success in business goes beyond what you’re selling, and is influenced greatly by customer satisfaction with a company’s services. This is why it’s important for office technology dealers to prioritize delivering high-quality and reliable customer service, especially during these unprecedented times when so much has changed and there are so many uncertainties.

Customers expect brands to offer a seamless, painless experience. A customer’s experience can help build a company’s reputation and solidify brand loyalty. At the end of the day, it is these same customers that will advocate on a company’s behalf through word-of-mouth, positive reviews, and referrals that result in business growth. In fact, Gartner Research finds that B2B customers are more than twice as likely as B2C customers to consider word-of-mouth inputs when making a purchase decision, and they consider a larger number of advocacy views. Therefore, strengthening existing relationships and fostering new ones will be pivotal in regaining business momentum. This is especially true during troubling times and something customers will remember in the future.

Leverage virtual technologies to maximize communications and efficiencies

One way businesses across the globe have been able to enhance customer service and support, and find operational efficiencies, is by embracing virtual communications – from virtual training courses, events and demonstrations to remote customer support enhancements.

Virtual training experiences can provide dealers with insights into how they can leverage technology and collaboration in the future of work, as well as ways to diversify portfolios and expand business offerings. Virtual training platforms can support channel partners in their business recovery and growth, with a focus on relevant topics for today’s business environment.

Most people agree that virtual connections can never replace in-person experiences. The office technology dealers that will stand out are those that use emerging and virtual technology to their advantage, helping to further support customers and provide high-quality services, without losing the human touch. As many businesses have been working remotely and those that are in the office are limiting visits from non-employees, in-person visits from office technology dealers have become less frequent. However, they have the opportunity to embrace emerging technology, through solutions like augmented intelligence assets, virtual presence and predictive logic, to gain an understanding of what customers are experiencing in real-time, and tailor their support and solutions accordingly. Leveraging augmented reality can also allow field technicians to share what is being serviced through their mobile device with additional support resources, resulting in faster solutions and improved device uptime.

Embrace the convergence of print and digital

There has certainly been a shift to digital communications in 2020, but it has been interesting to also see the resurgence of more traditional tactics. From brand communication to promotional campaigns, we’ve seen areas where the value of print has increased.

Marketers in particular have found ways to break through the digital clutter, which can be an effective means to reach customers. In fact, more than half of the respondents in a 2019 Print for Action survey said that they are more likely to notice a print ad than an online ad, which they scroll right past.

As seen over the past few months, one particular print and digital communication method that has gained popularity is QR codes. Serving as a type of barcode that is readable by mobile devices, QR codes can direct people to a web page or site with more information, which has been vital in the current climate where web pages may take the place of a physical, shared piece, such as restaurant menus.

Due to its contactless capabilities and cost-effectiveness, QR codes have seen a spark in areas such as direct mail, food and beverage, as well as sales. Through mailed promotional flyers that contain a personalized QR code, businesses can promote their hours and additional details about how they are operating in today’s new environment. The food and beverage industry has also been quick to use these as a way to adapt to more of a touchless experience to help enable patrons to easily access menus and make payments from their phones. Additionally, QR codes can be used for remote sales activities by providing potential customers with a QR code that connects them to virtual demonstrations to showcase a product’s performance capabilities that they may not be able to see in person.

Explore creativity

According to an April 2020 Gartner study, “CMO Perspective: Marketing in a COVID-19 World,” several companies have shifted priorities from selling current products and services to instead pushing forward solutions to help customers navigate the crisis. And in the Print for Action survey, many of the Americans surveyed believe the text (50%), content (49%) and quality (48%) are the most important features in making print materials stand out. Office technology dealers can creatively utilize their high-quality equipment and expertise to produce vibrantly printed materials that can help reach target audiences. From printing outdoor signage and synthetic menus for restaurants with curbside pickup and dining to creating materials to support frontline workers, there are several areas office technology dealerships can explore to expand their product portfolio and improve sales tactics.

An example of how one particular office technology dealer utilized its creativity to meet the current industry is LDI Color ToolBox. To help patients recognize their healthcare heroes behind the mask, registered nurses at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, part of the Northwell Health system, created oversized laminated photo badges that caregivers can wear clipped to their PPE. Custom laminated badges were created to help patients recognize their caregivers and bring Project Unseen Heroes to life. The team was able to produce, laminate and slot punch 2,500 badges for the hospital’s caregivers.

“Interestingly, I came across many of the issues that our production clients face on a daily basis,’’ said Michael Schloss, production solutions director, LDI Color ToolBox. “We received over 60 files that needed to be cleaned and reformatted for print as well as imposed and prepped so they can easily be cut to size, and being able to use the tools that we provide and recommend to improve our clients’ workflow by scripting and automating the cleanup and layout process was a huge plus. It gave me and our team of volunteers great joy to see the faces of all the frontline healthcare workers who are tirelessly fighting this deadly virus during the pandemic.”

Looking ahead

As the unpredictable year that was 2020 comes to an end, we look back on some of the lessons we have learned.

While office technology dealerships continue to navigate through the new normal, it’s important they focus on enhancing customer service and support, leveraging virtual technologies to maximize efficiencies, embracing the convergence of print and digital through emerging technology, and exploring creativity. As we continue to learn and move forward to adapt to these new ways of working and living, we must leverage our partnerships and shared goals to succeed in 2021.

Katsuhiro “Jerry” Matsufuji is vice president and general manager for the Business Information Communications Group of Canon U.S.A., Inc. In his role, Matsufuji helps enterprises leverage the solutions and technology needed to thrive in today’s competitive business climate. During his 34-year career at Canon, Matsufuji has worked at offices both inside and outside of the U.S., showcasing the strength of his leadership.