Another great article on this topic. While none of our clients has asked for ‘cuddles’, at least, as far as I’m aware, I wholly agree that the way we all buy products and services is changing and we as integrators need embrace the change.
Your model is still a recipe for disaster. Most CE pros cannot compete with the big box stores, with their barely trained cheap labor, and buying power that gives them the ability to sell cheap. Unless we sell products not available in those stores and provide higher quality labor, we a re doomed. Uber is a simple service, one does not need any explanation. When our customers are about to pay over $100,000.00 for a new system, they want to see the design and know how it is going to be installed. The involves interacting, unlike Uber.
As for Snap AV, you have it totally backwards. We started using them specifically because of price. Their quality of what we saw at their first exposition was a little iffy in the beginning, so we ordered parts that were not consequential. As we used their parts, we found their quality was better than what we expected, and their prices were, and still are, really good. Ordering from them is not much different than any other of our distributors. It is not the ease of doing business with Snap AV, but rather the quality and price that keeps us coming back.
If our customers were asking for a ride, our lives would be very different.
We are in an industry that’s based mainly on want, not need. We’re often asked to provide an experience that a big box store can’t because they aren’t specialists and when the client wants amazing sound, Sonos or other streaming boxes aren’t going to provide it. That means control will be different and, while Alexa does control many devices, the verbal instructions don’t always work and it’s up to the user to find the words that make it more reliable WRT understanding what is wanted.
I have been working at one house since the end of 2006 (because they continue to add and change things)- five separate Audio and AV systems are used in various areas and all are connected so the same music can play everywhere. That’s not a Big Box job and I know people who have worked as some level of CI whose heads would explode if they had to figure it out and while there’s no need to control everything with one remote, it needs to be easy for the whole family to use the equipment.
Define ‘Alpha client’. Many people actually want the decision-making in someone elses’ hands- they have other things to deal with and when it comes to the “Let’s do it” or “Not sure- can I get another option?”, they want to hear that it will do what they asked for, with the ability to be expanded or improved without gutting the whole thing. These people sometimes DO require hand-holding, but not as much to make them able to use it as catering to their whims. They want the convenience of making a phone call and at some point, they’ll find it done when they go home but they also want to be able to trust those who do this- for many of us, the homeowners don’t need to be at home because we have keys and/or codes.
You bought a TV, sight-unseen? I don’t know of anyone who thinks that’s a good idea. If you went to at least one store to compare and then bought from Amazon, you contributed to the difficulty of retailers staying in business.
I have never fallen in love with a supplier, but the first item I received from SnapAV worked out of the box, unlike the other item that came from a company owned by someone who writes articles about HDMI in trade mags. They were easier to deal with than many other suppliers, so I bought more. The one piece that developed a problem was advance-replaced and the client never knew about it. NOBODY else does that.
WRT “Creating a low-touch, predictable experience for clients…”- if you think that’s as easy as you seem to, try it. If that’s what you think people want, is it because you have actually spoken with people, or just thought about it?