WhitePaper-Critical-Success

How Top Gun Provided Product Support to over 60,000 devices for Law Enforcement & Panasonic

A Client Story
Released: July 12, 2019

Executive Summary

Technical Support. Client Support. Product Support. If a word is followed by “Support” it can be the afterthought of a great product idea or sales effort. This is especially true when the product being sold is integrated into a complex or ‘mixed’ environment where the complete solution requires products from other manufacturers. Who would even begin to think about outsourcing their product support in an environment that was just described? Well, believe it or not, one of the most successful, high technical products was outsourced to a close business partner, and quite successfully. This document details the complexities of the product, the services that were provided, why outsourcing was the best choice and how the two companies worked together to ensure success.

Overview

Circa 2001 Panasonic, a world leader in several technologies including video security, pioneered a business unit to engineer and produce a “in-car” video camera and recording system (known now as Arbitrator) for police departments. These devices were to be mounted in their vehicles to record traffic stops as well as other interactions with the general public. At the time it was seen as innovative and forward thinking. By today’s standard, it has become fairly common. A critical issue was that any technology having this level of complexity (see below) would need to be supported with a level of technical expertise not found in Panasonic’s currently existing consumer focused help desk. They would need to create help desk team, working 24/7 (because crime never sleeps) that could work through a mixed technology platform. All of the time keeping in mind that they are not just working with video, but with evidence. Costs, expertise, and logistics were all major concerns.

The Issue: A Dozen Devils were in the Details

Any 7/24 help desk working with technology is faced with challenges. This project had a few more than most:

  • The Environment/Solution was a mixed bag of every technology – The environment and technologies were complex. Just to capture one video involved over eight major and 40 minor pieces of equipment, two networks, and a ton of wiring in the car along. Then an additional network, security software, storage and database servers in the precincts. Dozens of points of failure.
  • It’s not just video, it’s evidence – It’s one thing to capture a video on a mobile phone. It’s something else when you are capturing video of a crime scene or accident. It’s not just video, its evidence.
  • Network security was a significant issue – The networks running in the police cars and in the garages had to be as secure was possible.
  • Hardware, software, firmware version control was complex – Over time there were as many as two dozen software releases in operation on four major hardware variants. Top Gun could replicate any combination of hardware / software / firmware in order to troubleshoot problems.
  • 7/24 Needed, but not always needed – Because law enforcement is 24/7, Panasonic needed to staff for a 24/7 operation. But many times there was not need for some of the later hours. Top Gun was able to leverage the economies of scale and other clients to keep the costs lower.

The Solution: Outsource to a Technically Strong Partner

Top Gun provided a myriad of services

The complex environment meant that is was often difficult to say which element of the system was where the problem began or ended. Having a partner that could do more than just answer the phone, create a ticket, and send a software patch was critical to fast resolution times and higher customer satisfaction.

  • 7/24 Live Helpdesk – Law enforcement is a 24/7 job. Panasonic needed to support them on those hours.
  • Hot Spare/Hot Swap Inventory MGT – The equipment was componentized and failure of any one of the key pieces of equipment would keep a squad car off the streets. Expediting replacement equipment was essential.
  • Software Licensing – Top Gun set-up a licensing and validation server/service.
  • Version Control and Software Releases – Over time there were as many as two dozen releases in operation on four major hardware variants. Top Gun could replicate any combination of hardware / software / firmware.
  • Problem analytics – Trouble ticket review and analytics enabled Panasonic to address issues proactively and reduce inbound calls.
  • Product enhancements suggestions -After some time, it became clear that the helpdesk could provide even greater service to Panasonic and to the law enforcement agencies that were using Arbitrator.
  • Quality control and release testing – The help desk agents were able to test the new releases prior to general availability. They knew the environments and therefore provided more realistic testing AND they gained experience with the new code prior to release.
  • Annual Maintenance Agreement Sales – Top Gun was able to act as a sales agent for the AMA contracts. As a customer would call in, they would get their issue resolved but then were passed to a sales agent to get them on a maintenance contract. AMA sales were 135% higher with this method.
  • Improved vehicle installation procedures – Improper vehicle installation was a major source of failures and issues. Top Gun was able to create a detailed installation procedure and testing to eliminate many of these issues.

The Results: Great service, lower overall costs.

Below are the benefits of the solution.

  • Lower Overall Costs – Panasonic was about to staff a 7/24 helpdesk at a lower cost than doing it themselves for the same volume of calls.
  • Lower Headcount – There was no Panasonic headcount which helped them avoid that corporate issue.
  • Customer Satisfaction Ratings in the 98%+ Range – Because running a help desk is what they do, the customer satisfaction ratings were excellent.

Top Gun provided us with depth and capabilities that we couldn’t provide ourselves. Yes, Panasonic is a large company, but our product was too new and too small to demand the support infrastructure it truly required. Its technologies were complex and cutting edge. The Panasonic general help desk just couldn’t handle anything that specialized. Arbitrator grew and flourished with the help of the support services from Top Gun. Whether you’re a small company wanting to look bigger than you are, or a big company needing to be nimbler than you can be, Top Gun is a great place to look for help.

– Greg Peratt,
former VP, Panasonic

about Top Gun Sales Performance and the Author

Top Gun Sales Performance

Based in Mason (Cincinnati), Ohio, is focused on helping medium and large companies increase their sales capabilities without increasing their headcount. Top Gun provides tools, training, technology, and outsourced resources needed to build a best-in-class selling organization. These services include training for your selling professionals, inbound and outbound call center for lead generation and customer support, sales specific IT support (CRM, customer facing applications), and media and event production services.

J Steven Osborne

Founder and CEO of Top Gun Sales Performance. Early in his career he served as a team leader for GE in their IT and Customer Support Center. As CEO of Top Gun, Steve works directly with top executives to help them solve their pressing issues. Top Gun Sales Performance provides lead generation services and inside sales support to some of the world’s best-known companies.

WhitePaper-Critical-Success

How Top Gun Provided Product Support to over 60,000 devices for Law Enforcement & Panasonic

A Client Story
Released: July 12, 2019

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