Face it – at some point your digital signage (DS) could have an issue like the two displays pictured above that I saw while traveling in the last couple of months. The one on the left shows a Windows update trying to run on a screen in a mid-western airport, and the other is displaying a Security Alert on a screen in an upscale southern hotel. What they have in common is an error that is persistent and waiting for someone local to connect to the machine and clear it.
If you’re out looking for digital signage, you obviously don’t want to find yourself in this situation someday, since the reason you’re outsourcing it is to avoid this type of thing. Good software design dictates that these problems would not arise in the first place, but in the real world they do (just ask Apple, Google or Facebook).
So the real question you should be asking is, what happens when things go wrong?
Some specific questions to ask potential DS vendors: How responsive is the supplier’s customer support? Can you reach a live person or is it via email only? How much can their support department actually do, i.e., can they diagnose and repair problems remotely for the majority of issues? When there is a hardware issue, what is their return/swap policy? Can they replace equipment overnight if need be? Do you have to pay separately for support and if so, how much? Do they provide online tools that allow you to remotely monitor your equipment’s health?
You should check these answers with an existing customer, or better yet, visit one locally to see for yourself. If the company can’t or won’t get you in touch with a nearby customer, watch out – that’s a huge red flag.