Selecting new dispatch furniture can be incredibly exciting. Working with your team to visualize and evaluate the latest and greatest dispatcher desks can boost morale and lead to increased employee engagement. For good reason, features and benefits are major drivers in the selection. Often overlooked, however, are less tangible attributes of potential vendors. Here's why these are equally important in the decision-making process.
Make the Most of Your Dispatch Console Investment
Consider what your experience will be like after installing the new dispatch console furniture. After all, your relationship will not end when the PO is submitted. Your comm center will have the furniture assets for a decade or longer. Be sure that you select a vendor that prioritizes your needs during the evaluation process, at the time of purchase, and beyond.
1) Design & Manufacturing Experience
Dispatch console manufacturer/ vendors should understand the nuanced needs of PSAPs and other markets they serve.
It’s true that most console furniture has similar features but the nuances of challenges faced by PSAPs is very different from those faced by Utilities providers. Even if the product needs are similar, the design, delivery and installation phases are much smoother when your project team brings a deep understanding of your specific technology, operations and funding requirements.
For example, as a pioneer of PSAP consoles, Watson delivered their first Dispatch Console in 1988 and has successfully completed more than 3000 separate installations. Several members of the administration team have been in the industry for 20+ years and have a good read on what’s around the corner.
You can rest easy knowing they’ve seen it all; and they continue to work with customers to develop solutions that support small tweaks and significant change.
2) Customer Care and Console Service
Every manufacturer approaches customer service with a different philosophy so it’s important to ensure that their style is compatible with your organization. More specifically, who is available for answering support questions and when? What are the different options for contacting customer service?
Are you supported with a team that includes a Regional Sales Representative, dedicated Account Manager and Lead Installer? Each of these support roles add value to your experience. Contact information for each of these individuals should be printed in the Product Guide that is delivered at the end of the installation so you’ll always have the information on hand.
In addition, consider the impact of changing responsibility within your team. Can any member of your team easily troubleshoot or get the help they need? Customer focused manufacturers will provide specific contact information and accept outreach via the contact section on their website where a form delivers your question right to the service team’s inbox.
3) Ability to Support Legacy Products
Depending on where and how the product is made this can vary drastically. For typical console products that will be in service for 10 or more years, you should feel confident that the product will be supported for the entire lifetime of ownership. The center shown below has had their Watson dispatch consoles since 1993!
At Watson, we approach our product engineering with a philosophy called “soft-tooling.” This means that when we are designing a part, we consider how easily it can be made from raw materials and, in most cases, this leads to a part that we can manufacturer far into the future, without needing to maintain special dies or machinery.
4) Innovation & Compatibility
Your dispatch center desk manufacturer should support your organization for as long as your dispatchers are at workstations. This means more than just conventional “durability.” Continuous support includes the ability to flex to accommodate changing ergonomic, technology and space planning needs.
Future-proofing is a core tenet of the Watson design process. Given the rapid pace of technology innovation, our consoles are built to handle changes in the type, size and quantity of hardware over time. In some cases, our partners begin with extensive hardware requirements that include up to six computers and over time implement progressive software or remote computing that cuts this need in half. Whenever possible, new product development is designed to be reverse compatible with legacy products.
12 Questions to Get the Conversation Started
We’ve covered four key areas that should be evaluated alongside the dispatch center desk feature sets. The right vendor partner delivers a superior product and service that extends the ROI. Start your evaluation of manufacturer/suppliers of dispatch consoles with these questions and add additional questions that are relevant to your team’s unique needs:
- How long has your company been working with our industry?
- What makes your team most qualified to provide the best solution for us?
- How long will it be possible to order dispatch console parts for repair?
- How do you ensure that parts will still be available 10 years from now?
- How long can we order consoles to match what we have?
- Will troubleshooting or requesting a service appointment be quick and easy?
- Do you provide team training at the time of installation? Do you provide a user’s guide?
- What is your turn around time for service inquiries?
- Who will be part of our service team? How do we contact them?
- Is your dispatch center furniture designed for reverse compatibility?
- Are the dispatch console desks designed to incorporate changing technology?
- What has your development team done to ensure that the design will support our needs for the lifetime of the product?
And check out these blogs for tips on how to promote a positive experience at your comm center: