"Error" is a five-letter word that can strike panic in the hearts of busy office staff, especially when an urgent job needs to get done. Printer errors, and the frustrations that come with them – we’ve all been there. Today’s work world is full of specialized hardware that needs occasional maintenance, however most of the time the issues are simple and quick to resolve. It’s the timespan between problem discovery and resolution that is often the greatest issue, resulting in decreased staff productivity and increased maintenance costs.
SATO, a global leader in barcode and RFID technology, wanted to address this gap and shorten the timeframe for diagnosing and troubleshooting issues with their label printers., Their service teams had to cover hundreds of models of printers globally, so operational efficiency was key. The company also wanted to further improve the customer experience by learning more about how their customers were using the equipment, as well as help them detect errors in advance to minimize printer downtime.
Remote Service is Great Service
The solution lay in the Cloud. SATO revolutionized its service model by enabling remote connectivity with all deployed SATO CL4/6NX-J series printers via the Internet. Their solution securely exposed actionable printer data, such as status, history, errors, warnings, and alerts, and fed this data directly into their various integrated business systems, including their Salesforce customer service interface.
The Architecture of a Connected Printer
As SATO was already using the Salesforce platform, including Sales Cloud, and Service Cloud, to manage all information regarding their customers and users,adding printer-specific data to the record turned the company’s Salesforce instance into a true service portal. It’s now capable of providing customer service teams with a full picture of what’s happening with a particular printer within the context of a customer and their business. This provides customers with peace of mind, acting as a virtual customer engineer right on site.
With Salesforce at the center, SATO partnered with LogMeIn to build an architecture that integrated various business systems including Heroku, third party technologies from Heroku Add-ons, and Xively by LogMeIn. Web and mobile apps running on the Heroku platform serve the front-end user interface for technicians to view printer data in real-time, with Heroku Connect syncing all relevant data between Heroku and Salesforce on the back-end. They used a few Heroku Add-ons to complete their implementation, including New Relic APM to monitor and tune their Heroku apps and Papertrail for log management.
Xively provides the underlying transport layer that sends data between the printer, Heroku and Salesforce. Xively is also used to manage and configure specific functionality on each printer through a custom device dashboard that sits on a web page served by Heroku and is embedded into SATO’s Salesforce interface as an iframe. This gives technicians the ability to reach down and touch a printer just by clicking on "Control Panel" in the Salesforce asset.
A fully functional proof-of-concept implementation was built in less than 30 days. Mats Hedberg, General Manager, SATO Europe
IoT Strategy Delivers Results
Thanks to Heroku and Xively, SATO was able to launch the world’s first industrial label printer IoT service. The cloud-based maintenance solution for its Internet-enabled CL4/6NX-J printers allows SATO customers and partners to significantly accelerate recovery and maintenance timeframes through remote control capabilities. In many cases, a technician can perform simple troubleshooting, maintenance, or firmware upgrade tasks for a particular printer without the need for an on-site visit – greatly reducing support costs. The integrated solution means that technicians only need to access one Salesforce interface to view customer status and remotely troubleshoot or service the printer.
In addition, the solution empowers SATO’s analytical systems to access technical and business usage patterns, helping the company monitor their printers to detect anomalies and prevent downtime before errors occur. Support workflows can be triggered directly from a particular printer or analytics output, creating both reactive and predictive servicing of the device fleet. Real customer usage data can inform the product roadmap, maximizing the company’s development investments in new innovation. Usage data and metrics can also drive granular customer and message targeting for sales and marketing campaigns, expanding revenue opportunities while optimizing operations.
Most importantly, running Internet-enabled printers means that SATO’s customers don’t have to spend their own valuable time helping to resolve the problem. With remote servicing, customers no longer needed to call phone support to troubleshoot, request a technician visit, or order supplies.
Not only did our connected printer strategy simply reduce customer frustration, it also greatly increased customer satisfaction. Mats Hedberg, General Manager, SATO Europe
SATO’s solution alerts their technicians of new customer support cases through Salesforce. From the customer service center, a technician can simply click on an asset in Salesforce to gain full access to a customer’s printer data as well as their customer support record. With complete control over a printer’s UI and hundreds of settings, such as speed, print quality, or display language, the technician can then easily diagnose the problem and respond accordingly. They can also view detailed printer logs or other pertinent information such as real-time device, network, or hardware status, and push firmware updates remotely when needed. Through Salesforce, service reps can configure automated notifications that let customers know when their printers are running low on supplies. Technicians in the field can access the same printer data through a native Heroku app running on their mobile device.
The combination of Salesforce Service Cloud and the Heroku platform has given our customer service teams an unprecedented view into every aspect of a customer, from contact info to printer status. Mats Hedberg, General Manager, SATO Europe
For SATO, their IoT strategy is about new ways they can serve the modern connected customer.