The custom integration market is overflowing with companies fighting for your hard earned money. Many integrators are simply missing the mark when it comes to earning your business and delivering a fantastic custom experience. How do you pick the right one?
[H] Consumer has been in a unique position over the last year when it comes to taking a look at full computer systems from the most popular integrators. Unlike other publications, we do not “review” systems. We evaluate the customer experience. In order to do that we assume the role of a customer and actually purchase the system, which gives us the opportunity to experience a company’s sales force, their customer service, and their technical support, in addition to gauging the quality of the physical product we receive. As we’ve said before, “fast” is easily bought, but customer satisfaction can be elusive.
There is no question that the system integration market is saturated. The barriers to entry are low, and anyone with any HTML skills and access to Newegg.com can hock their systems on the Internet.
So what should a customer look for when deciding which company to buy from? A quick look at the components that “boutique” builders use will show that there are many similarities between one product and another.
The key, as we have shown over the last year, is in everything else associated with being the customer of any particular boutique. How well did that salesman ascertain your needs? How quickly did they ship your system, and were you kept in the loop during the build process? Did you get a box packed in peanuts with the extra screws thrown in a motherboard box, or did you get custom packaging and a thank you note? Furthermore, was tech support on the ball; empowered and willing to help you, or were they AWOL and incompetent?
These are all questions that drive the bottom line value of a system. Oftentimes, you can find similar configurations from different companies that may be priced at either end of the spectrum. More than the cost of goods sold (COGS) factor into the price of a machine. A competent sales force, technical support department, production team, and RMA process all are overhead costs associated with building and supporting a custom computer. And all are factored into the price a company places on their product.
In this editorial we’ll discuss these aspects, and touch on how a company can compromise in too many places, driving customers to build their own systems because there simply is no advantage to buying one that is built for you.