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By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As co-founder and head of the factory service center forImageStreamInternet Solutions, Doug Hass is in charge of making sure hiscompany services the Linux-based network routers it manufactures.But there's more to the repair work done by the Plymouth,Indiana, business than keeping customers happy by replacingburned-out circuit boards and soldering loose sockets.ImageStream's factory service center is an important source ofideas for new products and product improvements, while alsoprofiting from hourly service fees. "What comes back fromcustomers helps us design for customers--everything from where thepower switch is located to the fact that a cable is hard to getto," says Hass.

ImageStream's effective use of its factory service centersets it apart from most manufacturers, according to a 2002 study byNew York City management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Mostcompanies have realized only a fraction of their servicecenter's potential, McKinsey & Co. found. It's not justabout using customer feedback, either. Many companies sellingproducts for as little as $100 per unit could generate 20 percentof revenues-and an even higher percentage of profits--from fullyrealized service center networks, but most produce less than halfthat.

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