How Can I Help You?

By: Chad Allen

The customer is always right, right? No. In fact, not usually. But the truth is the customer pays the bill and we try to keep them happy. You know when you’re in the role of customer, you want to be treated like you’re also right. Everyone is a customer, and to some extent, everyone is a vendor (of something or another). In the A/V industry, you know this more than not. What’s my point?

My point is as A/V pioneers, we are dealing with ever-changing technology, with a constant state of unreliability that we are responsible for fixing, or knowing how to fix. DirecTV locked up? Your fault. Does Apple TV stop streaming your pictures as the screen saver? Yep, your fault. No one looks at the multi-billion dollar or trillion-dollar company behind those devices as the actual culprit. And you know, the reality is whether your customer has a massive system or small entry-level one, they all use the same devices. There is not a bulletproof piece of hardware that you can buy to protect any of these devices.

As a solutions architect for these systems, you can continue to evolve programming or hire firms like us to help, but the devices that code is controlling are a “brick” that works or doesn’t work.

Unfortunately, you are probably reading this grasping at each word here waiting for me to give you this amazing and insightful answer. Sorry. The only answer is for the customer to ask good questions. This is easier said than done. When someone says “X” amount for their system, they want it to work and when it doesn’t, their questions may come off more like frustration and aggravation at you. Have you as a customer ever just gotten pissed without knowing or understanding the complexity of the problem? It happens.

How can we train our customers to ask good questions? Here are some tips:

1. Make sure they understand what they bought: Let them know they have multiple pieces of technology working together and from the time their DVR Box may need rebooting or replacing, or their Apple issues may have to be directed to Apple but explain how you integrate with Apple so they know what to direct to you and what not to.

2. Give them troubleshooting steps to feel empowered: Give them known scenarios you know of so if they experience them, they can try to implement solutions. Also, understand some clients will never troubleshoot themselves.

3. Present them with a list of requirements you need when reporting a problem: Ask for screenshots, software versions, recent updates, etc. to help you isolate problems and resolve them quickly.

I touch this topic this month because it is important that we pay this forward. The A/V industry is one of the hardest. Let’s pay it forward when we are customers and ask good questions. It can help keep us grounded when we need our customers to do the same.

And when all else fails, maybe just start by being kind!