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Don’t Let Technology Play the Grinch

How to make sure system failures don’t spoil your holiday cheer.

I believe our industry is changing. The driving force is the evolving relationship between consumers and their technology. Our ongoing discussion is geared toward the next-generation integrator who believes that this change is inevitable.

The holiday season is officially upon us, and with it comes a number of parties and family gatherings. If there was ever a time of year that the technology we install needs to work without fail, this is it. But we all know that, in spite of our best efforts to the contrary, technology is fragile and system failures will occur at the most inopportune times. Instead of simply bracing ourselves for the panicked phone calls from clients, we might be well-served to use the last few weeks of the year as a time to get proactive about selling the value of the service that we provide.

The first step is to remember one critical thing about tech support: your clients don’t care about technology; they care about life moments. They care about family gathered together for meals and about preserving those rare moments when they can simply relax and spend time together. This is pure emotion, and nothing sells more effectively than emotion. To that end, the holiday party season should be seen as an opportunity to engage with your clients and inform them about the exciting new ways that you are approaching service.

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Think of it as an opportunity to educate your clients about the fantastic tools that you now have at your disposal to remotely and proactively diagnose and fix those issues that can ruin their valuable family time. The pitch practically writes itself: “Don’t let technology play the Grinch. Let us help ensure that your holiday gatherings go off without a hitch.”

Even if you don’t plan to pitch a full-service contract, reaching out to your client base to offer preventative maintenance visits prior to their holiday parties is a great idea. This initiative will strengthen relationships and position your company as a reliable and proactive resource, paving the way for a service plan conversation at a later date. As an added bonus, you’ll create additional revenue with these visits and greatly reduce the number of emergency calls you’ll receive come party time.

Consider, for instance, the number of commercials that you hear from local HVAC companies in the months leading up to winter (“Call us now to make sure your furnace is running before the snow flies.”) HVAC companies aren’t doing this because they make wild profits sending a technician out to look at your system. They’re doing it because it provides them with a perfectly valid reason to engage and upsell. As home technology professionals, we should be looking at the holiday party season in the exact same way.

The above approach could be used to cast a wide net. In fact, I’m willing to bet that every integrator reading this article has a handful of client systems that appear to be more fragile than others. The clients with those systems should be your priority, as they represent the highest risk of failing during the holidays. After all, you’ve really got two options here. On one hand you can sit back and hope for the best. Perhaps their system will limp through the holiday parties. Then again, perhaps it won’t. And if all you’ve done is to sit back and wait with your fingers crossed, then you’d better be prepared to receive the angry phone call on Christmas Eve.

This is a precious opportunity to let these clients know that there is a better way. It could be as simple as a preventative maintenance visit. Alternatively, it could be a proactive monitoring plan. In both scenarios, you are changing the entire dynamic of the conversation. The client’s acceptance of this offering carries with it an implicit understanding that these systems will have problems from time to time. And that your job, as their technology manager, is not to prevent 100 percent of these issues from happening, but rather to address them promptly when they do. In the unlikely event that your client refuses… guess what? You’ve bought yourself an “out” on the next panicked phone call (and another opportunity to prove value). Either way, the act of offering a proactive approach puts your company in a vastly better position.

When you look at it this way, the holiday season takes on a dramatically different feel. It becomes less about managing emergencies and more about taking advantage of opportunities. When the inevitable system hiccups occur, it’s paramount that your clients see you as part of the solution and not the cause of their problem. By reaching out ahead of the year’s most important life moments and offering your clients a proactive approach to avoiding technology issues, you establish yourself as a reliable partner and valuable resource. You’ll be saving Christmas from the technology Grinch and your clients will love you for it.