AV integrators are understandably excited about the hardware side…about specs such as ultra-thin bezels, fine-pitch displays, waterproof options, and curved and flexible screens. Now, integrators also need to think about the solution overall, which includes content and ongoing management.
Once customers have made their purchase decisions regarding their AV hardware and software, and they’ve both been installed, there comes the moment when customers themselves have to operate the installed technology. How much thought do you, as an integrator, give to ensuring that customers have a good experience learning how to use the installed hardware and software? And why is doing a good job educating your customers so important?
To stay relevant and competitive, integrators should foster ongoing relationships with their customers. Thinking of yourself as a partner to your customers can lead to referrals to new customers and repeat business from the original ones.
When working to provide a pleasant installation experience for new customers, the first thing to remember is that customers do not know what you know. Although this might seem obvious, it might not be to everyone. For example, it might be clear to you how to reconnect a device; however, that might not be clear to customers, especially those whose “AV staff” consists of volunteers.
Even leaving behind instruction booklets might not eliminate a customer’s confusion. In today’s internet-connected world, customer frustration with product how-to instructions can be vented in very visible—and possibly very viral—ways. An unhappy customer who tweets that the system you installed was hard to use can damage your reputation in an instant.
Frustration levels vary. If your customers have a growth mindset, as explained in Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, they might be more willing to work on understanding your instructions before they give up. If they do not have a growth mindset, it is more likely that frustrated customers will turn to social media to complain about the difficulties they experienced with your installation.
So, how do you take on your customer’s mindset to make the installation process a pleasant experience? When creating instructions for how to use your products, start with the assumption that the customer knows nothing. And that “nothing” is really nothing. Do not assume, for example, that saying, “Plug the device into the HDMI input” will be obvious. Say what the HDMI input is, and then use a clear illustration to demonstrate the action. Making instructions clear means not skipping steps. It might be very clear to you that action “B” is done between actions “A” and “C” and, thus, there is no reason to mention “B.” However, some of your customers might need to have “B” specified.
In an ideal world, an integrator could send out a representative to sit with customers any time they had a question; in reality, however, that is usually not financially feasible. Of course, sitting on a phone or Skype call and walking customers through the question would be a close second. In both cases, customers can ask questions as they go along, if they are confused.
Whenever your customer service people hear the same questions asked repeatedly, this is an opportunity for you to get out in front of the issue and automatically provide the answer, educating new customers when the technology is initially installed. By taking the initiative, you provide better customer service.
And, of course, avoid unnecessary technical jargon. Don’t say, “Connect power to the device,” when, instead, you can say, “Plug the cord into an electrical outlet.” Use lay terms, rather than technical terms, whenever possible.
It is also important to manage customers’ expectations. Be careful not to promise the moon, such as, for example, by stating, “It will only take a couple of hours to install,” when you know it will take much longer. Be realistic about the time requirements, and work with customers to optimize the installation schedule.
In conclusion, the goal for integrators when educating customers on how to use installed technology is to make it as easy and painless as possible. That way, you’ll be encouraging customers to share on social media what an enjoyable experience it was to learn about and use the newly installed technology. In the process, you can garner positive reviews for your company!