When the Training Wheels Come Off
Where To Go For Help When the Instructor Leaves
by Thomas Franklin
Part 4 of a 4-part exclusive online series
Everyone remembers the day when the training wheels came off the bicycle and you were free to race out ahead of your anxious parents. Seventeen stitches later, you appreciate the fact that mom and dad continued to offer their steadying hand until your skills improved. Wide format printer makers and their dealers will similarly continue to offer a helping hand after your formal training is complete.
"People are usually overwhelmed right after you install a machine and they just nod their head to everything you’re telling them and forget a few days later," says Tony Miller, product manager, Technical Services, Roland. "It’s natural, in all the excitement."
After installation, you’ll be left with a very massive instruction binder on how to operate your printer and some basic trouble shooting tips. Many vendors also include a basic operational video on DVD. If you elected to take a training course, you will be sent home with all the course material, most likely in another sizeable binder, and your own notes.
Inevitably over the course of the printer’s life you’ll have additional questions. Your first point of contact is your dealer. The availability and responsiveness of individual dealers will vary, naturally, but most are equipped to handle questions concerning basic printer operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting. If your dealer can’t help or is unresponsive, you can reach out to the manufacturer directly.
How you choose to connect with your manufacturer depends in part on the manufacturer themselves and your temperament. If you’re comfortable online, many vendors have very extensive online support such as documents, instructional videos, owners manuals, drivers, and troubleshooting tips prominently on their product support pages. Depending on the manufacturer, these online resources are frequently updated, with the update date displayed so you know how current the information really is.
"Most of the phone calls we receive could be answered online," says Kirk Levis, director of education management, Oce. He adds that the company constantly monitors help line calls to update its online Frequently Asked Questions and support guides.
HP offers a series of what Sandy Gramly, Designjet Category business manager describes as "application cook books." These are step-by-step guides for various applications using the company’s equipment.
Others, however, are only now building out their online support. Of course, there’s always the venerable technical support line. Here too, response times and availability vary but vendors are acutely aware that production environments demand timely responses. Some companies, like HP, wrap free phone support into their warranties. Once the warranty expires, you’ll pay per incident. Other companies, like Roland, offer free phone support after you’ve attempted to resolve the issue with your dealer.
One of the keys to minimizing the amount of post-training head scratching is to train multiple people and to ensure that those you are training will stay with your business for the long term, vendors say.
"Training is an investment in human capital," says Frank Tueckmantel, director, VUTEk Training, Education and Events Services, EFI, Inc.
"We encourage companies to send more than one employee to our training courses," says Richard Codos, executive director, North American Development for LP Digital Technologies, Inc.