“What is the lifetime of the product?” That is a question we get usually during the bid process. The answer is simple. It is an arbitrary number of years the salesperson will tell you depending on how much they want to win the job.
Really? Yes, it is that simple. Any salesperson can throw out a high number like they’re at an auction. Some may say their design will hold up for 20 years while others will say they’re good for 100 years. They are safe doing this because, more than likely, the salesperson will move on to another job in the next few years, and in a few more years, you can almost bet that the staff at the center will have enough turnover they forget this claim entirely.
How can they make these claims?
Well, there is no standard for the longevity of dispatch consoles. Here at Xybix we have been in business for 25 years. We have furniture that is still in use that is about 23 years old. Does that mean it has a lifetime of 23 years? Yes and no. Obviously we have product that has a 23 year lifespan, but things change over time and the product we built then is very different from the product we build now. The old consoles were designed for CRT monitors, maybe two computers and 2 keyboards and mice. Not much equipment compared to today.
Think back to what your dispatch consoles looked like 20 years ago in 1996? They probably had lots of buttons and LEDs, maybe a computer or two. They also had absolutely no ergonomics. I can go on and on about what total garbage they were. But at the time, they were pretty good. Steel construction will last 100 years, but it feels cramped and like you are working in the server room.
Technology moves us forward; that is guaranteed, especially in this industry. As the technology advances, the furniture has to keep up. So, even though your furniture may last 20 years, is it really the best thing for your team to be working on if its technology is dated? No.
So, how do you know your dispatch consoles are built to last?
The answer: third party testing. One of these associations is BIFMA (Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association). These standards are built from many furniture companies that joined forces to create standards of quality and durability. All of the testing must be done by a third party lab, as this prevents companies from cheating on the test to pass. No certification means you did not pass.
Some dispatch console companies try to bypass the fact that they are not certified by claiming that they do not make furniture. They try to insist that they only make consoles and should not be held to any furniture standards. Let’s face it; whatever you call the piece of equipment you rest your hands on all day, it is still furniture.
What about customer service?
A really important part of determining the life of the furniture is the customer service that the manufacturer provides. Does the company you are talking to offer quality customer service? How reliable is a claim that boasts 30 years of product life when you do not get a phone call back with a warranty? The answer is that the company isn’t reliable in the slightest. Go look at their website and see how hard it is to find a customer service contact. Do they have an 800 number that is easy to find? If so, call the number and see what happens. Does someone answer, or is it a phone tree with easy access to customer service? This is more important to you then the arbitrary lifespan number the sales person gave you.
Here’s a dirty secret of the dispatch furniture world: some companies have terrible customer service. Instead of just calling the three references the company provides you with, do some deeper investigating online in regards to the company’s reputation. It’s hard to maintain hundreds of customers, as it takes dedication and persistence. Without the quality of service to back up the bragged-about lifespan, the 20 year quote easily turns into 6 because you cannot get parts. When this is the case, what good did it do to pay significantly more for 20 years? Absolutely nothing.
We’ve established that it’s easy to get a promise from a salesperson that your dispatch console will last 20 years, but it’s critical to ask questions about how they support their claim.
- Do they have a top-notch warranty support team?
- Can the show you that they passed BIFMA tests?
- Who manufactures the various parts of the consoles?
Questions like this will help you get through the sales chatter and make a strong decision for your agency.