We have been having a lot of requests from clients to integrate Alexa voice control into their Crestron systems. We are happy to do so, but with a clear caveat: voice control is not exact, and we are relying on a $50 Echo Dot connected via Wi-Fi, so issues that arise with the interface are not part of our standard warranty. Typically, clients understand that this is new technology and they are on the cutting edge, so reliability is not perfect.
Last week we got a call from a client a client who was having trouble with their Dot; Alexa kept reporting that it was offline. The client assumed it was an issue with our network and was adamant about it. We offered to come out for a service call, agreeing that if it was related to issues in the network there would be no charge, but if it was an Echo issue, they would be charged for a full service call. Upon arriving at the home, we had the client call Amazon technical support, and after a short hold and discussion with tech support, the client was informed that Dots falling offline is a known issue that Amazon is working on. I was very impressed that Amazon took immediate ownership of the issue and did not try to blame the problem on other parties (much like the ISPs often do when we put network enterprise-grade hardware in). The client was apologetic and quickly paid the invoice.
This experience got me to thinking about other manufacturers that either take ownership of issues and/or support dealers extensively in the field. We have trained our clients that if everything else is working well, and one device or service is having an issue, it typically isn’t the entire system that is at fault, but the device that is experiencing issues. With this little bit of knowledge, clients often know when to call us and when to call the manufacturer. With great support from many manufacturers, we have seen reduced calls regarding their products. Often the consumer-oriented companies, such as Amazon mentioned above and Sonos, provide great support. Sonos tech support is very knowledgeable, and many of our clients call Sonos before they call us when they have a streaming music issue.
We also love our industry partners who support us when in the field and an issue arises. We have received great phone support from SnapAV, and they are quick to overnight replacement product at no cost to the dealer. Similarly, Crestron not only gets replacement product out quickly, but will also send technical staff into the field to solve particularly troublesome issues. I also know that Control4 will send their technical field managers to job sites to assist dealers in solving issues with thorny installs or helping to track down the gremlins on a job that just seems to be plagued with problems.
I’m sure there are dozens upon dozens of companies out there that provide similar top notch support to their dealer base, so please chime in using the comments section to let us know which manufacturers have gone above and beyond to support your dealership with technical or business issues.