AV Police Squad

CRM Best Practice: It’s The Little Things That Count

Have you heard about that insect and dinosaur aficionado that asked the hotel for a framed photo of Jeff Goldblum in the “Special Requests” section?


How great is the staff at that hotel?! They took a simple, little request and nailed it. Not only did they become an internet sensation, but I am sure they made a customer for life. I am sure Seth just thought it would be a funny, little joke that would be ignored, but the hotel seized the opportunity. They heard what their client wanted and delivered bigly. There’s magic in the little details.

I have a few clients that had seemingly esoteric requests, but they were not made flippantly. These little details were painstakingly created because they were an integral part to a successful system.

Here are some examples:

“The audio output cables must be cyan colored. The audio input cables must be magenta. The microphone cables must be red.”

Alright, we get it. You want different colored cables for the different signals in the rack. It makes sense. But if we just label the cables properly, that should do it, right? Wrong!

This particular project was for a portable rack that was going to be shipped around the world for events. The colors were critical to match with the no-word setup guide the client had been using for years. Why not include words with the setup guide? Not everyone interfacing with the rack will speak English, or Spanish, or French, or—you get the idea. Further, if the system had to be set up in minutes instead of hours, using colors instead of trying to read labels saves time.

The colors were so important that the contractor that responded with “The cyan audio cable is backordered until July”—the only contractor to comment on the cable colors—won the bid, despite being 25% more expensive than the other guys. They heard the client’s need.

“Amplifier 1 must be plugged into Outlet 1. The mixer must be plugged into Outlet 2. The switcher must be…”

That’s cute. They showed all the equipment on the PDU to make sure they had enough outlets. The order isn’t critical, right? Wrong!

This client has a very specific outlet designation for a reason. They have a mature remote support team that relies on the outlet designations to remotely troubleshoot the room. They crunched the numbers and found that 20% of their service calls (20%!!!) could be solved by remotely cycling the power to the problematic device without having to physically dispatch a technician to the room. It is not good when the remote operator thinks they are cycling power to a mixer, when in reality, they are cycling power to the controller. They get all cranky when that happens. The outlet order is very important.

“The 64×48 Dante channels between the mixing console and DSP mixer must be named this and that.”

Do I really need to name the second audio conference signal “TH2”? What’s wrong with “ATC2”? My engineers like using that acronym. I should be OK tweaking the names, right? Wrong! What you might not realize is that this particular naming convention has been agonized over and honed for years to give the operators familiarity with any of the auditorium systems throughout the organization. In a high pressure, fast-paced environment, mentally translating “ATC2” to “TH2” adds seconds to the process that the operators don’t have. Further, if you’re used to looking for “TH2” on the board, something that starts with the different letter might not even compute.

These are just a few examples. I’m sure you can come up with your own list. The point is you HAVE to pay attention to the small stuff if you want to keep your clients. Not even “keep your clients happy”, but simply “keep your clients”. In today’s world, if you’re not listening to all your clients’ needs, someone else will be happy to.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the crazy riders celebrities have as part of their contracts to show up at gigs. One of the most famous is Van Halen’s requirement to have “a bowl of M&M candies, with all the brown ones removed.”


The band didn’t have a problem with delicious, brown, candy-coated morsels of chocolate that melt in your mouth, not in your hand. They had a problem with establishments that didn’t pay attention to the details they required to put on a great show. If they didn’t see a bowl of M&Ms with the brown ones removed, what are the chances that their stage system was set up with the appropriate frequencies and routings? If there were brown M&Ms, or worse, no M&Ms…they knew they had a long sound check ahead of them. If Seth didn’t see several framed photos of Jeff Goldblum scattered around the hotel room, the hotel would have had another fly-by-night guest instead of a customer for life. The same is true when commissioning a system. If the details are all accounted for, the testing goes very quickly. If the amplifiers don’t have their attenuator knobs marked to indicate the proper level setting, we have a long day of testing ahead of us. Pay attention to the small stuff. It’s all about the small stuff…and Jeff Goldblum.

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