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Business Partnerships Entail Doing The Small Things

by SUMMIT on December 9th, 2014

Business Partnerships Entail Doing The Small Things

It may be surprising to hear, but clients, even when they are not quite vocal about it, very much appreciate any amount of support and services offered to them–no matter how small. Since the integration business is usually more focused on large projects with big budgets and, historically, we haven’t sought to provide small support, onsite services, etc. to clients, this is probably something that it would make sense for those of us in the integration business to pay attention to. Today, no matter what we do, no matter what we sell, it’s important to remember that above all, we are all in the people business. As such, partnerships and relationships in business today need to go well beyond the initial transaction and the big numbers, and move toward a state of being there to meet all of the needs of our clients, even when some needs seem too small to warrant focus.

Changing the off-the-shelf approach

InfoComm’s 2012 Market Definition and Strategy Study (MDSS) revealed that the North American market for managed services in pro AV is estimated to hit the $3.8 billion mark in 2015. If AV service providers want a piece of this market, they need to look beyond integration projects, and consider offering a wider bandwidth of services and support to their clients. Moreover, customers are evaluating the efficacy of their tech investments and other operational functions on the basis of ROI drawn from these ends. Since the benefits of managed services and support increase the ROI on AV investments, as an AV integrator, our goal should not be restricted to just selling the products and/or getting them installed. Rather, we should focus on helping our clients use the products most effectively.

Small things make a big difference  

An issue that many clients face is that after the completion of a project, most AV partners move on to new assignments, often forgetting all about the post-installation support that the client might need. Many integrators are still hanging on to their vendor personality: we’ve sold you a product, and here’s your receipt. The reality is that the real future lies in the prospect of an ongoing partnership: we’ve sold you a product, now how can we make it work best for you? And also, what else might we be able to help you with and/or problem do you have that we can solve?

Keep in mind that it’s not always the big problems that make a huge impact on client satisfaction. Even a small issue with a screen, or something not quite right about audio quality, can keep our clients from experiencing the very best that the AV systems they’ve purchased can deliver. Offering to solve a minor problem over the phone might take as little as five minutes of our time, but the relationship that we’re building is priceless. This relationship building? It’s the perfect recipe for growing trust and mutual dependence – essentials of true business partnerships.

Which support services will the ideal partner offer?

Onsite services. On-site services can be of tremendous benefit to your clients. If this is not something you’re already offering, consider adding and providing on-demand services by visiting the client’s site to service the AV systems installed by you, or any other integrator.

Internet services. Today, the Internet, and a fast, reliable connection, is the key to both success and happiness when it comes to clients. It’s not at all unusual for clients to expect Internet support from their AV partners, since they are the technology providers, and logically experts at technology in general. Identifying an opportunity here, many successful integrators are offering AV support for live events and also are venturing into Internet support as well.

Help desk and remote monitoring. A help desk and remote monitoring can not only make serving your customers more effectively easier for your team, it can make it eaiser for your customers, too. Troubleshooting problems over the phone or online can be a way to mitigate problems quickly and easily, and can be more cost effective than on-site visits. It’s a good bet to provide a combination of the two – both in person and remote monitoring and service – and that will go a long way toward keeping your clients happy and feeling as though they’ve got the attention from you that they deserve..

When it comes to relationships, the small things count. We remember all the little ways that someone has been there for us. The same idea rings true in the case of business partnerships with our customers. Small steps, like the things outlined above, and a mindset that puts the customer first, always, goes a long way toward establishing a long-term relationship, a true partnership, and a vendor that our clients can trust and depend on when they need us.

Have you begun to take small steps like the ones outlined above to increase client satisfaction? Has it paid dividends for you? We’d love to hear about your experiences.

photo credit: Truthout.org via photopin cc

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