Before we purchase almost anything, one of the questions we ask is, “Does the quality of this item justify its cost?” Other factors come into play but, for most, this question trumps all others. If it didn’t, most of us would either be eating Ramen noodles and listening to tapes on a Walkman, or very quickly broke from refusing to drive anything less than a Maserati with a trunk full of Maine lobster.
This concept of cost vs. quality applies when choosing your imaging equipment service provider every bit as much as it does in the market or at the car lot- and we don't think it's true that only the most expensive service provider (generally the OEM) can deliver excellent quality. Here's why:
While the OEM generally does a good job covering the nation with modality-specific trained engineers, that doesn’t mean a 3rd party service provider won’t also have a trained engineer right in your backyard. The process of opening a service call can be much easier when working with a 3rd party as well. Alongside our team of in-house engineers, Block Imaging has a nationwide network of approved service engineers to support your imaging needs across all modalities and manufacturers. Using this network, Block Imaging seeks to maintain an onsite response time of 4 hours or less for our contract customers.
This is probably the most crucial component in choosing a service provider. Having a high degree of confidence in your primary service engineer’s technical expertise not only gives you peace of mind, but empowers the engineer to perform their job without feeling like their capabilities are in question.
In terms of the cost vs. quality question, it's worth noting that many 3rd party service engineers used to work for an OEM prior to starting their own businesses. I encourage anyone shopping for service to ask plenty of questions about technical background when vetting a service provider. If your options come down to paying a little more to work with a significantly more experienced engineer: don't skimp!
When your system goes down and a part is needed, the last thing you need is a delay in locating the replacement. While all OEMs maintain a stock of parts here in the US, there is a chance of a part being on backorder. This can be especially tricky if the manufacturing plant is not based in the US. In this situation, an order can require a significant lead time.
Fortunately, many 3rd party service providers also keep a parts inventory. While this does put another service option into play, it is important to make sure they have the parts specific to your system (e.g. GE Innova 4100 vs. “We have GE Innova parts”) ready to ship as soon as the engineer makes the request. Block Imaging understands the significance of having replacement parts ready to go for our service customers. We currently have over 20,000 parts on the shelf and are adding to that inventory every day.
Contract Flexibility and Exceptions
You know better than anyone your organization's priorities and needs when it comes to the level of service you require. Having the ability to opt in or out of contract features like glassware, 24/7 service, or coil coverage helps maintain cost-effective contract pricing. This more "à la carte" approach is not always an option with OEM and 3rd party providers alike.
Also, don't forget to review your cancellation terms. We've seen customers get locked into multi-year service agreements that they end up being unhappy with, but are unable to cancel. Based on experiences like this, Block Imaging Service makes both opt-in features and flexible cancellation terms available.
At signing, customer care is frequently overlooked because, after all, it’s more about how well your service provider can work on the equipment, right? If calling into a pre-recorded service dispatch, poor follow-up communication, and no advocacy for the customer don’t bother you, then sure!
One of the most frustrating things, outside of your equipment being broken, is feeling like your issue really isn’t that important to your service provider. Providing an excellent customer experience is at the core of Block Imaging’s service model. We understand that to have successful partnership with our customers, we have to know their unique needs in order to meet them when it's most important.
Ultimately, there will always be facilities that choose the most expensive service option assuming that it will provide the highest quality. There will also always be facilities that choose the cheapest option because they've convinced themselves that quicker turnarounds, greater engineer experience, and more effective communication aren't worth paying more for. Our hope for anyone buying service is that, by asking a lot of questions about the criteria above, they can find a provider that fits their budgetary needs AND strives to offer service that rivals the very best in the business.