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Five Tips to Educate Your Customers and Manage Expectations

on July 25, 2016

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The field of audio-visual (AV) integration is filled with numerous products, services, and viewpoints. In today’s communication-friendly economy, consumers develop their own ideas about AV setups before they ever speak to a professional. To maintain a competitive edge, AV professionals must educate customers and manage their expectations before, during, and after project completion. 

Address Common Customer-Interaction Challenges

The AV industry is changing, and those changes precipitate some serious challenges. The intersection of AV and information technology (IT), hiring qualified employees, and differentiating company offerings from competitor models all affect customer interaction before a sales professional ever speaks to a prospect. Once a company addresses those internal challenges, it must look at customer-facing interactions. 

Handling customer interactions is one of the toughest—and most important—challenges in the AV industry. AV professionals may encounter customers with a variety of AV education levels, communication concepts, and preferences. Some customers will expect thorough explanations for every step of the process while others may not want to have much involvement at all.

Use These Five Tips to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Connecting with the customer is key to any AV project’s success. People who work in the industry understand that AV setups are custom jobs requiring creative problem solving, industry expertise, and patience. However, customers don’t always see everything that happens behind the scenes. With a little forethought, you can excel at customer service every day.

  1. Engage in a knowledgeable dialogue. AV professionals must listen and respond thoughtfully to the questions customers present. To present yourself and your team as authorities, you need more than facts and data sheets. For example, the customer may wonder how the AV integration is going to facilitate their geographically separated, company-wide communication. Respond with empathy, walk them through the process and the end result, and maintain an open and active dialogue throughout the customer journey.
  2. Empower all team members to do more. All customer-facing representatives should have a general working knowledge regarding a project’s technical aspects and requirements. Sales representatives who can’t explain the basic facts of a solution, can’t discuss industry trends, or fail to competently demonstrate the process reflect poorly on the entire team. One way to ensure team-wide empowerment is to conduct at least basic AV training on a regular basis, and make reference materials available to all team members at every level. 
  3. Under-promise and over-deliver. Give your customers practical information about the process up front. As with any implementation, unforeseen circumstances often set back even the most routine implementations. Case studies can help illustrate not just the intended results but also the possible obstacles. Use prior AV projects to help customers understand that while sometimes things may not go as planned, you have contingency plans to address issues and keep things on track. Don’t sell your customers on a hope and a dream. Sell them on an exceptional outcome and a thoughtful implementation process.
  4. Always use one point person. The project manager should be involved in every communication that takes place. Projects start going sideways when little miscommunications turn into larger issues. This can be of particular concern with customers who are not very knowledgeable about IT systems or AV integration. Providing customers with one liaison throughout the project can help them feel more comfortable and confident in the services you’re providing. Set up a communications protocol, and ensure your entire team follows it to meet—and exceed—customer expectations.
  5. Commit to every project. At the end of the process, the customer is going to evaluate how well the system works and how it felt to work with your team. Customer education is of paramount importance at every stage, but especially at project completion. Make AV system training a part of your overall offering to ensure your customers feel confident in using the new system. Provide them with basic training materials to share with other employees. Consider making ongoing training and consultation a part of your package as well. Ask questions along the way, take a genuine interest in customer concerns, and never stop working to build and maintain the customer relationship.

Customer service is an ongoing process—and it’s a team effort. One person may take point, but every team member has the potential to add to or take away from the overall experience. Anticipating pain points and using these guidelines can help your team build long-term customer relationships and gain a competitive edge.

Photo Credit: rohaharris21 via Compfight cc