Author: Justin Schmid
Content Marketing Specialist
Questions to Ask Telematics Providers
Consider these topics when you are evaluating fleet management software providers:
- The frequency of their software updates
- Whether they have an in-house development team
- Experience with your fleet size and business sector
- Software integrations
- Experience with diverse fleets
- Ability to handle users with different levels of permission
Questions to Ask Telematics Providers During the Buying Process.
Telematics providers are used to hearing “cut to the chase – what’s your best price?”
But telematics solutions deserve a closer look than just the lowest price. Finding a telematics provider requires time and research to find the best fit. There’s nothing worse than locking yourself into a new three-year commitment with a provider only to have buyer’s remorse on telematics soon after.
In part one of this series, we’ll consider important questions to ask potential telematics providers during the buying process. These questions will help you understand what you’re really getting.
“How often do you update your software and is there a cost associated with this?”
We live in the booming age of technology, and the telematics space is no exception. Features and capabilities are constantly grow and evolve, which means that telematics providers should provide updates on their hardware and software. Some telematics providers update features in their product quarterly or annually with an official release of a new version. Some companies update more frequently to stay ahead of the curve, providing cutting-edge features and technology as it becomes available.
This way, there is no waiting period for requested features or new technologies. Make sure the telematics provider you choose is a leader in innovation and takes feedback from their customers to create a roadmap of feature recommendations.
“Do you have an in-house development team?”
This is a great follow-up to validate the answer to the previous question. Nothing shows dedication to improving products more than having an in-house development team. When development is not in-house, it can slow turnaround times for bug fixes, feature requests, integrations, or any updates and enhancements.
It could also mean that you are dealing with a reseller who has virtually no say in development. Telematics providers who care about their end product will have in-house development teams constantly making improvements and enhancements.
“Does your telematics solution offer a mobile app?”
We are constantly on-the-go and have our phones/tablets with us most of the time. It is important that managers are able to access vehicle data from a mobile app. The level of functionality of the mobile app is also worth testing.
“Do you have experience with my industry and fleet size?”
Find out which telematics providers work with other companies in your industry and how they use the software. This can provide proof of a successful implementation and give you more direction in how to use telematics to help your business. You can often find this information through customer success stories published on the telematics provider’s website. The provider should be able to provide customer references you can call to discuss their experience, as well.
“Will the solution integrate with my other back-office and fleet management systems?”
Using different business solutions that work great on their own is great. But it’s even better when they can work together. It’s a connected world now where many types of technologies can communicate to streamline operations for businesses. Vehicle telematics software is one of them.
Find out if the telematics providers you are researching can integrate with the other software you use in your daily workflow.
“Can you handle diverse fleets with diverse assets?”
Some telematics platforms do not support asset and vehicle tracking together. You wouldn’t want to use different solutions for trucks, trailers, generators, and yellow iron.
If you have a diverse fleet, make sure you can track everything from one interface and that they can provide the information you need from those vehicles and assets. View this overview of vehicle and asset tracking solutions for more information.
“How many users with different permissions can use your telematics solution?”
There is a hierarchy within every company. Access to certain information will vary depending on where each person falls within the hierarchy. You have C-level executives, managers, supervisors, and dispatchers who are in charge of different groups, need different information, and therefore need different permissions.
Make sure that you also have control over the level of permissions for each user.
“How long have you been in the telematics business?”
A proven track record of delivering an exceptional customer is important. Look for the sweet spot – not too old, not too new. A telematics provider that is too new may be a fly-by-night company that vanishes.
An older company may offer outdated products and software. They may spend little to no time updating their systems based on customer needs. You may also be reduced to a number and not receive support that helps you get results.
“What makes you better?”
Some common answers you might get to this question are “our software!” or “our features!” Yes, features and functionality are important. But you should dig beyond that response.
Find out if the provider will not only be the best software vendor, but the best business partner. Why do companies choose to do business with you? What sets you apart from? Think about these questions when researching telematics providers to see if your company values match up with theirs.
“What is your customer retention rate?”
You will want to select a telematics company that has high customer satisfaction. A high churn rate is not a good sign of the company’s technology or customer service. The industry average is around 10-12% per year. Check out review sites like Capterra to see what current customers are saying about telematics providers.
“What training and support services do you offer?”
Training and support are critical. Your employees need to know how to use the system to get results. Find out if the provider has customer service offerings like free, unlimited training from your dedicated account manager.
You will always have questions as you learn more about the software, develop new fleet strategies, and hire new employees. It’s also important to find out if the telematics provider offers 24/7/365 technical support for your service department.
Your team should be able to call in with issues any time of day, whether you run a 24/7 business or prefer to call after normal business hours so it doesn’t take them away from regular duties.
“What are our purchasing options and terms?”
With most telematics providers, there are two options for obtaining devices.
- Purchase: Paying for the devices up front in addition to a monthly service fee.
- Rental/subscription: The cost of the devices is bundled in with the monthly service fee.
Rental contracts eliminate the upfront cost. But some fleets prefer to own the devices. It’s important to make sure the telematics provider you choose offers whichever option works best for your business.
You should also inquire about their contract length and whether they automatically renew contracts. Most telematics providers offer a two- to three-year contracts. Some providers automatically renew your contract, so it’s important to ask this question up front.
“Do you offer a hardware warranty?”
Warranty lengths, as well as what they cover, varies from provider to provider. When you invest in telematics hardware, some providers offer a warranty for a few months, a year, or even longer.
Some contracts act as the warranty for the entirety of your agreement. Make sure that you are covered in case any of the devices ever stop working and need to be replaced.
“What is your process for deploying a solution smoothly and successfully?”
There is always a process to ensure a successful roll-out. Here is an example of an implementation outline:
- Establish key metrics for improvement
- Get executive buy-in
- Do a proof of concept/pilot
- Conduct regular reviews throughout the pilot
- Produce a finished business case
- Establish a roll-out strategy and installation schedule
- Schedule training based on roles and use cases for the system
One Last Thought about Questions for Telematics Providers
The important takeaway is that a good solution goes beyond the software alone. It’s about finding the right support you expect, and a company that you want to do business with.
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