Customer Service Means Everything in Custom Integration

1/16/2013 1:26:00 PM

How important is customer service in our industry? To me, it’s huge. I am a loyalist and if you do right by me, I will do right by you every time. I am all about building relationships and having each other’s backs… you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours, especially when dealing with technology-based products in a market where there are so many options and things are always changing and being upgraded.

A while back, I wrote a blog on the importance of a great rep firm behind you and recently, I have been enlightened to the fact that it not only takes a great rep, but goes even deeper than that to the manufacturers.

What happens when you’re stuck on a job where the product you are installing is just not working right no matter what you do? Who better to be able to call for assistance than the company who manufactures the product? In a lot of cases, it can be very annoying to call these companies because you can go through a million different “selection” options and wait on hold for hours with technical support. It ends up being frustrating for you AND your client.

I’m fortunate to have formed a good relationship with Steve Gobern of URC’s technical support team. Now, instead of waiting my turn with technical support, I call Steve directly and he is able to effortlessly walk me through whatever issue I may be having on the job. He will even personally come out to jobs that I am working on to troubleshoot errors and Skype with me after hours on his own time to perfect my jobs.

When an update issue arose recently with Pandora, I had one commercial client in particular whose system I was having trouble adjusting to work properly. Although URC did not come up with a solution right away, they escalated the issue quickly, and Steve came to my office as well as to the client’s place of business to do his part in showing how important their business was to URC as a company—and in turn, to me as their integrator. Steve and URC’s commitment to customer service helped ease the situation with my client and we were able to collectively come up with a solution for them.

KEF is another company that has impressed me with its great customer service. I needed to get a large quantity of speakers quickly for one of my top clients, and KEF’s northern regional sales manager, Jason Caprarola, came out to my client’s home that same week to take inventory of what was needed and had the order ready for me and shipping out in three days. I won’t forget his dedication to my success. I will make sure that the next speaker order that comes my way is passed right to him.

In the 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, it stated that 66 percent of consumers are willing to spend an average of 13 percent more with a company that provides excellent customer service. It also stated that 59 percent of consumers would try a new brand or company for a better service experience. When a consumer has a good customer service experience, they will tell an average of 15 people. When they have a bad experience, they will tell 24. I don’t know about you, but these numbers are humbling. They are humbling because they are painfully true. This is undoubtedly how I choose what manufacturers I am going to work with and this is inevitably how customers are going to choose a custom integrator. I know what side of the statistic I want my company to be on, and I’m proud to say that I work with manufacturers that find themselves on the same side.

Todd Anthony Puma is president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.


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