Best Manufacturer Support 2014

By John Honovich, Published Jul 28, 2014, 12:00am EDT

Integrators told us who the best and worst manufacturers are at providing customer support were.

The companies that stood out included Arecont Vision, Avigilon, Axis, Exacq, Genetec, Hikvision, Lenel, Milestone, Pelco, Sony, S2 and Verint.

But which ones were the worst and which the best?

Today, we review integrator's choices for best:

Strong Connection Overall Favorites and Best Support

Manufacturers take note, a strong connection exists between integrator's selection of favorite products (e.g., favorite IP cameras and favorite VMSes) and best support. Along with integrator's comments, it is clear that becoming an integrator favorite relies heavily on strong support.

Axis - Top Choice

Axis was the clear top choice, getting 4x more selections than any other manufacturer. Comments included:

  • "All the problems reported through the website are solved within reasonable time limits and if not possible to resolve they replaced the camera with zero cost to us"
  • "We have a contact person that helps us with everything we need in short time. We even have demo equipment for free (for a few weeks generally)." 
  • "They have a fantastic support system and we rarely if ever need to go beyond our direct factory rep for support. This is both sales and technical."
  • "Consistently reliable and not nit picky about replacing failed product."
  • "There on-line and chat support is knowledgeable and helpful, and their local representative is honest, helpful and prompt."
  • "We have had numerous projects where install problems were encountered. Although not an Axis problem, local reps and National account reps have gone out of their way to assist us with our needs."
  • "Local sales support has gone out of their way not just for the sale but also to assist in several different ways to ensure the project was a success."

However, there were a few worst selections for Axis as well:

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  • "Their Tier 1 tech support knows very little and Tier 2, while more knowledgable can almost never solve a problem."
  • "They take off all summer. We are having quality issues and they are unresponsive"

Genetec and Milestone - Strong Finish

The two high end VMS providers both did very well, finish tied for second.

Integrators selecting Genetec emphasized their rapid response to complex technology and features:

  • "The hold times can be long, however the level of expertise and effort by their phone support is great. They do not make you run through standard "scripted" questions that just waste time. I have even had a software bug that they released a patch for and fixed it within a day or 2 for our customer. They are not quick to point the blame to another entity."
  • "They have a very good help menu and documentation of their VMS platform, a well stablished support portal and they also have invested in tech support in Spanish"
  • "Very responsive and easy to get in touch with the proper point of contact. They have the team of people dedicated to fixing the issue."
  • "Genetec has been pleasant to work with as well. They don't hesitate to remote in and take a look at things. Sometimes you get a new person who doesn't know as much, but they tend to bring someone more experienced on quickly if needed. They also do an excellent job of putting bug fixes in the next service release, and they always follow up on cases which didn't get closed for some reason."
  • "Well they have handled our calls and tickets very well. We have had several instances where there were bugs in the system and Genetec was very responsive to take care of it by release software packs."

However, a few integrators noted problems with Genetec:

  • "I have been at least 6 times on phone with technical representative and he promised 6 times to give me a call and send technical description but at the end I haven't got it." (Eastern Europe)
  • "Genetec tech support often has trouble understanding their own product, especially when there is greater complexity in the application or third party integration. The problems are always resolved, but it takes a long time."

A number of integrators praised Milestone's solving of problems, including comments like: 

  • "Milestone still is very well although not as outstanding as in the early days anymore. In general they're pretty quick to react On newly submitted cases and in The end they always come up with a suitable Solution within very reasonable time"
  • "They always return my calls, inside sales goes the extra mile and has great follow up on technical issues."
  • "Anytime I fire of tech questions always get a very timely answer. Always willing to help even teamviewing into customer system to help fix an issue."
  • "They provided amazing support, answered immediately after we called. Very knowledgeable and even connected to our computer to help resolve a multitude of issues."

However, one prominent integrator warned:

"In the last two years with the amount of turn around in North America, they have dropped the ball numerous times. 80% of their job is just to show up. Engaging our field organization has been the problem. As a result, the field is starting to look elsewhere."

Another lamented their paid training focus:

"They reps were non-responsive in trying to address client issues and kept wanting us to have our techs attend a 4 days training seminar. They seemed like they were pushing us to either become certified on a higher level of their software or have us say "uncle" and push the client to an integrator who was."

We have heard similar stories like this. However, Milestone's recent release of online training should help reduce this issue.

Avigilon - Notable Choice

Avigilon was a notable choice, with comments including:

  • "Avigilon is best, quick answers, systematic follow-up." 
  • "Their tech support team will remote in to assist you very quickly. They have excellent support in the field and their distributors are very well trained."
  • "They seem willing to go above and beyond to help you resolve any issues. I have had instances where they will even help me troubleshoot other manufacturers' camera issues while using Avigilon VMS such as firmware upgrades, setting up motion detection, etc... that the other manufacturer cant seem to help me with. They do not act bothered by any question I ask, regardless if it is a simple fix or not."

However, one integrator who choose Avigilon as best did mention issues with some support people: 

"There is an exception with some of the tech support agents that they seem to outsource to, the biggest of all being they do not have the same resources immediately available to them, and trouble understanding their accents/broken english. This is easily avoidable by asking for a specific agent I like to deal with."

And two integrators choose them as the worst, citing arrogance:

  • "Rapid growth and success leads to arrogance."
  • "The local representation is the most arrogant I have seen in quite some time, taking days to respond to a request, and being rude to indifferent when they do. Technical support is average."

S2 - Notable Choice

Mirroring their strong finish in the access control favorites, S2 did well, with a number of integrator selections:

  • "Shortest wait times, most knowledgeable staff, remote assist utility built right into the product." 
  • "They have a good online help ticket system and they return phone calls pretty quickly."
  • "Was fast to answer my questions and send tech info complementary to they have in they web. Their warranty replacement shippings were fast enough. It was easy to work with them"

Pelco - Split Decision

Pelco had a mix showing with a notable number of integrators choosing them the best as well as the worst.

On the positive side, comments included:

  • "They answer all of our questions, request, in a efficiency way, and proper time, and once we put on production those answers, we get the right results"
  • "Those people have adopted an attitude that really has been a pleasure to deal with. They have been responsive and trusting. When I say something is bad and needs RMA, they believe me without a lot of un-needed investigation on their part."

On the negative, there was an emphasis of the Schneider impact:

  • "Since the acquisition of Pelco by Schneider Electric, they forgot about the customer needs and let machines do their job. There is no way to have someone help you with their VMS platform (especially Digital Sentry)" (Latin America) 
  • "Pelco Schneider electric, it maybe just the poor endura software design.. that even confused the tech support folks"

Recently, Pelco has made a big public deal of returning to their customer services roots. Time will tell if they can do so.

Hikvision - Better Than Expected?

Expectations for Chinese manufacturer support are typically low. On the other hand, Hikvision is one of the largest manufacturers in the world and is aggressively targeting global expansion.

Hikvision had a number of selections, both for best and worst. Here are some of the positives:

  • "Answered technical & sales questions, supported us in grey market issues here in Cambodia, visited us, provided discounts to help us win projects."
  • "The rep worked directly with Exacq to solve an obscure problem very quickly. I did not expect two massive companies to work together so well and so quickly."
  • "Because they care about the consumer, if I have some problem i just send this info thru the dealer and I have feedback." (Brazil)

On the other hand, it seems that their distribution setup has caused some pains as these comments indicate:

  • "Hard to get support (only through distributor)" (Eastern Europe)
  • "After weeks of working with them to bid project, when it came to placing a demo order a couple of months later stopped answering our requests on how to place orders. Eventually after meeting them in ISC West they advising they have now appointed a distributor for my country and I have to but through them" (Latin America)

Also, some integrators are unhappy specifically with North American support:

  • "Very difficult to speak with someone and not very knowledgeable." (North America)
  • "Always refer you to read manuals, want you to figure it out why call support at all if you have to read thru." (North America)

Next Up - The Worst

See worst selections 2014:

2 reports cite this report:

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