Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Cloud?

Technology is really amazing these days.   I’ve sold office equipment for many years and I’m convinced that 2012 will be the year we see technology such as Smartphone’s, Kindle’s, and iPad’s affecting the way I approach my customers.   Why…. Because of the Cloud.

Two years ago my neighbor, who works at a large software company in Washington, told me he was working on the “Cloud” project.  He explained that the “Cloud” was virtual servers that would replace traditional servers that business’s typically own and maintain on site.  That seemed cool to me but not too impactful to my approach to business.  I was mistaken.

What is most exciting to me about this major shift in business document needs is that Xerox is in the best position to help customers solve the Cloud Document Puzzle.   The Northwest Group (CTX, QBSI) has the best professional services team to help navigate through the security, network, software and hardware business objectives for organizations in the Northwest.  

Bring on 2012 …with technology and the Northwest Group with workflow optimization.  I can’t wait!

-Meredith : Major Account Manager

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Northwest Group Customer Care Center

In 2009, we recognized the need for faster remote support so the Northwest Group implemented the Customer Care Center.  This resource is comprised of certified IT specialists who are trained on a variety of technology solutions including hardware, software and network infrastructure.   With our CCC, we are able to provide our customer base instant response to daily issues involving print, scan, and fax. 

As our customer base continues to grow, so does our call volume. A top priority for the NWG remains to be finding more efficient methods to get our customers up and running again. When you place a service call at CTX, QBSI or Pinnell, you will speak with our CCC support who will immediately try to remedy the situation remotely.   Using state-of-the-art technology, we are able to remotely connect to your computer to see exactly what you are experiencing.  If after this remote session, we feel an onsite technician is required, then one will be dispatched to your office.  With this process in place, we have seen a 33% reduction in our onsite technician requests, simply because most issues are being resolved remotely.  This has been a tremendous relief for our customers who simply don’t have to be down very long and can continue with their day-to-day business. 

When you call us, we are your neighbors, we understand your needs and we know that you also need to stay productive and your device is a large part of that.  So give us a call and experience the terrific support from our Customer Care Center!

- Kristopher: Customer Care Center Manager

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Good Old Days

Many people my age are nostalgic for "The Good Old Days". For office equipment, however, the good old days are now. 

As a service technician, I have seen tremendous change both in processes and in the equipment over the last 25 years.

When I started in 1984, a typical service call took twice as long as it does today, while generating much more waste per click.

It was common for large production machines to have maintenance intervals of 20-30k. This would be like having your car serviced (for 4-6 hours at a time) every week or every 1000 miles.

Back in the day, many copiers used liquid toner. This is as bad as it sounds. The liquids were flammable and VERY toxic. Many unscrupulous individuals simply poured this hydrocarbon cocktail into the sewer to dispose of it. In today's society that would never be allowed.

Office equipment today is cleaner, easier to repair, and runs more reliably. For the end user, the future is even brighter. The machines themselves have more productivity increasing features than ever before.

They have incorporated the technology that previously was only available in commercial printing equipment into every day document production, allowing end users to often times fix an issue without waiting for technical assistance.

Xerox has also made a real commitment to the future. From the reduction of hazardous materials in manufacturing (RoHS) to the implementation of the ColorQube family and it's Solid Ink Technology, Xerox has shown an impressive and innovative environmental focus.

And to the future that my 5 year old granddaughter will one day inherit, with companies like the Northwest Group (CTX, QBSI and Pinnell) and Xerox working hand-in-hand, it can only get better.

- Mark: Senior Service Technician

Monday, December 5, 2011

Do You Know How Much You Spend?

Managed print is one of the last unaudited expenses in the office place according to CFO Magazine. According to the article, “most companies have no idea how much they spend”, (CFO Magazine, May 2008). You may say to yourself, “Yes, but that article was printed over three years ago. It is no longer relevant.”

OK. Then how much do you spend on printing? If you can’t answer that relatively quickly then it is still relevant today.

What is managed print? It can mean different things to different people. To the Northwest Group (CTX and QBSI), it includes all related expenses and opportunity costs related to putting an image on a piece of paper. Clearly that includes the cost of toner, the cost of the device, and the cost of maintenance. How about the cost of shipping toner or the cost of paying a person to manage the flow of supplies? Money is spent on these peripheral costs as well and should be included in the assessment.

The Northwest Group likes to work from this Managed Print Services (MPS) value statement: “NWG Managed Print Services reduces the amount of time, money, and resources spent on your printer fleet. By allowing us to manage your fleet more efficiently, you can spend your resources on more revenue generating investments.”

Companies have their own culture and way of doing things. NWG honors that by keeping the terms and conditions of our MPS agreement open. We tailor your experience within the program to meet your needs and to fit within your culture. Do you already donate empty toner cartridges to a local non-profit which then allows under-privileged people to keep a job?  Great, we will support that. If not, maybe we can direct you towards one or at least introduce you to our recycling program to help keep Oregon and Washington green.

I invite you to look into your print environment and see what is there. You may be surprised.

- Daniel: Managed Print Services Director

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Service & Our Continuous Improvements

At the Northwest Group (Copytronix, QBSI and Pinnell) we are not just a copier company, we strive to provide the very best solutions and service in the marketplace.  This is not a stagnant operation, in fact, we continuously look for new ways to improve our processes both internal and external so that our service is seen as superior and our customers are satisfied.

One significant change we have made in 2011 is our use of BEI Services. Business Equipment Information Services is a tiered approach to managing service results.

This is how it works:

BEI provides us with a worldwide database of equipment performance. We can quickly compare our equipment performance to national standards and take the guess work out of whether or not the equipment is performing as expected, and if not, some insight as to why.

It shows us the most and least effective volume bands for each individual model. We can also instantly compare our results in some critical areas such as parts and labor cost, copies between visits, time between failures and most importantly our ability to fix it the first time, without having to order parts or be called back for any reason before a certain criteria of copies and time make it a quality service call.

Technician territories are set based on data from BEI which builds effective territories based on training, travel, and technical efficiency. It is workload distribution that gives us the best chance of having the correct technician responding to the call with the correct parts to get it fixed the first time.

Along with benchmarking and building effective territories, we can then offer an incentive program to our technicians that rewards doing a total service call, having the correct parts to fix it the first time and making the equipment run as long as possible between service calls.
By benchmarking results, running efficient territories and using parts wisely, we are becoming a better service organization for our customers. That is the ultimate goal.

- Ed: Service Manager

Friday, November 18, 2011

Increase Print Volume to Your Print Shop

In this economy print shops are trying to maximize the investment of their imaging systems.  Printers of all sizes from a local quick printer to a large commercial printer all share the same goal, keep the equipment running jobs so it will pay for itself and put money in their pockets. With the age of the light production equipment and the improved quality of digital, more and more of these printers are utilizing this technology.  Ways of keeping this equipment running rely on finding alternative ways of reaching the market and their customers. In this fast pace world, people don’t want to run down and drop off their information, submitting jobs in an easy and efficient method is becoming the most important need.

How can you do it?

Everyone has email… let’s have customers email us documents.  

That can work sometimes but how good are our customers at giving us accurate directions in an email about creating a finished document?  How large can the files be with our current mail system and will our mail provider allow us to receive those big files in our inboxes?  

What about FTP? Will that solve our problems?  

Who will manage that FTP server? We still have the issue of our customers filling out a form correctly, ensuring the job ticket is correct and requiring the operators to contact the customer to ensure proper imposition. 

What if the customer wants a 16-page brochure printed and saddle-stitch bound with a different cover and body media?  I work in the printing business so I could probably describe how I want this done; however most customers don’t speak the printing language.  What if I want the cover to be printed on 100lb gloss cover and the body to be 80lb gloss text?  Maybe you only have 80lb gloss cover in stock?  Do you make a special purchase for my job or call and ask if I will take the 80lb cover you have on hand? 

Enter Web Submission…

Web submission allows users to visit your website to order their particular job and given the exact choices available, they can make their selections on media, finishing and quantities through a simple “shopping cart” method that most people use every day. They simply upload their document through this new portal on your website and the job ticket options they just selected attaches to that document to be printed.  This makes getting things printed at your shop easy, efficient and your site will be perceived as being more professional with these capabilities.

Just like any software solution the market is full of choices.  Take some time and look into this option so that you can stay in the game and keep those printers producing for you.

-Troy: Production Specialist

Monday, November 7, 2011

Welcome to NWG

Welcome to the Northwest Group's Technology Blog.  First a little history...
The Northwest Group is comprised of three sister companies, Copytronix (CTX), QBSI, and Pinnell. Each company covers a different geographical area within Oregon and Washington.  The Northwest Group is part of Global Imaging Systems.  Each company has their own history and story on how they became a part of the Northwest Group which can be found in depth on their individual website.

In 2007, Global Imaging Systems and all of it's operating units became a wholly owned subsidiary of Xerox Corportation. This created an incredible benefit to our customer base by not only giving Global more national power but also allowing us to sell and support the Xerox product line.  We are able to take a consultative approach to providing solutions by building relationships.  It is by truly understanding our customers and their business that we are able to provide the appropriate solution and increase their productivity.

This blog is to share information with you, because as the experts in the business, we feel it necessary to communicate and share that knowledge so that your business can continue to grow.  We will share case studies, new products, new software solutions, recommendations, statistics, whatever we feel will benefit you.  So please read, respond, interactive and enjoy. Thanks!