Where does the majority of your new business come from? If you’re like most integrators, then the answer is referrals. For as long as the home technology industry has been around, it’s been a business built primarily on word-of-mouth. For this reason, customer service has always played an integral role in your company’s stability and growth. However, in today’s increasingly competitive connected home market, the role of service has never been more important.
Not only do effective service strategies play a vital role in driving lifetime value and client retention, but the ubiquitous nature of social media and online review sites like Angie’s List and Yelp have amplified their importance as a tool to drive new business revenues.
However, even if you recognize this opportunity, becoming a “service-first” company requires making a significant cultural shift within your organization.
OneVision’s Joseph Kolchinsky will be teaching a workshop covering this “Project to Service Transition” in detail at CEDIA 2017 (read more and register here). Although making this shift is an involved process requiring both cultural and technological changes, there are three simple pillars which underlie the service-first approach.
While speed certainly plays a key role in the project side of your business, when it comes to timeliness, the world of service is far less forgiving.
Pulling a crew off a project for a day or two to go deal with other pressing matters can typically be done without ruffling any feathers, assuming it doesn’t happen so often that you begin to delay the overall project timeline.
When it comes to service however, there is no substitute for speed. The moment a client begins dealing with an unexpected tech failure the clock is ticking. If your company is not setup to handle these urgent situations promptly, the client experience will surely suffer.
By definition, projects are a “one and done” game. Sure, the consistency of your performance over a number of projects will be evaluated by trade partners (e.g. builders, designers, and architects).
However, from the homeowner’s perspective, the project execution eventually comes to represents a singular transaction, and small portion of their overall home technology experience at that. The remainder, and lion’s share, of the client’s perception of your business is colored entirely by how consistently you can deliver high quality service and support.
Service issues can and will occur over the entire life of their system, often at the worst possible time. Each one of these incidents represents an opportunity to leave a client either disappointed, ambivalent or amazed. A service-first company recognizes this fact, and treats each incident as an opportunity to build trust and goodwill with the client.
During the course of a project, your relationship with the client is fairly straightforward — you are one amongst many tradesmen who has agreed to deliver a known quantity (i.e. scope of work) at a certain price within a defined period of time.
For the majority of homeowners, it’s not until they move in and begin to live with their system that the true nature of their relationship with their integrator becomes apparent.
Not long after the service phase has begun, these clients realize how inexorably the quality of their time at home is tied to the performance of their technology. Network outages kill homework time. HDMI issues ruin movie night. Lighting control issues leave clients literally in the dark. And on and on it goes.
These clients no longer need an installer, they need a Technology Manager — someone who can empathize with real ways that these technology failures impact their lives.
Stepping Up Your Service Game
Keeping clients happy has always been a necessity for companies who want to stay in business. However, far beyond a means of simply protecting your reputation, client service is the cornerstone of any integration business looking to thrive well into the future.
Both demand and competition in the smart home market are heading to all time highs, as is the complexity and fragility of the ownership experience. A service-first company sees in these converging factors a massive opportunity.
No longer seeing service as a necessary evil that comes along with a thriving project business, these companies recognize a chance to supply tangible and ongoing value into a growing market with infinite demand by providing quick, consistent and emotionally intelligent service and support.
For more information about service and using it to create RMR, visit www.onevisionresources.com/blog.
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