2017 Residential Systems Stellar Service Awards Based on your votes here, the fourth-annual Residential Systems Stellar Service Awards will honor manufacturers and distributors for their exceptional service. By RS Staff Published: December 9, 2016 ⋅ Updated: April 15, 2019 Based on your votes here, the fourth-annual Residential Systems Stellar Service Awards will honor manufacturers and distributors for their exceptional customer service and communication, dealer programs, sales and marketing support, training programs, warranty/return policy/tech support, and web portal/online training tools. Please check out the categories below, and vote for no more than three companies per category that you think offer the most stellar service. This is an opt-in program, so clearly not all companies are represented. Winners will be announced before the end of the year and profiled in the January 2017 issue of Residential Systems magazine. Voting will close December 16, 2016. Below are the candidate descriptions. Click here to vote. Customer Service, Communication AudioControl At AudioControl, our in-person support team based in Seattle provide what is reputed by clients & dealers as one of the best and most qualified support teams in the US and in over 20 international countries. The AudioControl technical support team are not just some of the best troubleshooters out there but also work every day with clients helping to specify projects, providing training, visiting dealers, flying to projects for on-premise support, attending trade-shows and events, as well as providing important feedback and research for our new-product development teams. In addition, this year, the TEAM designed, developed and launched AudioControl’s new technical Knowledgebase live on our new website for dealers and clients to use as a proactive support and training tool. Every call we get is referenced to the Knowledgebase further making our one-stop support center achieve the reputation it has grown over 40 years of making good sound great. AVAD AVAD offers integrators unmatched customer service support, through regional representatives located nearby or their recently-expanded call services support. By expanding their call center and regional representative efforts, AVAD will reach more dealers, in more markets more efficiently. Representatives can be reached between 7:30am EST and 8:00pm EST to assist integrators with any technical, shipping or logistical problems they may be facing. AVAD’s exceptional and personable customer service doesn’t end there, value-added services, such as AVAD System Design Group, provide customers with a range of design services, including needs analysis, AutoCAD presentations and product selection. The opportunities are limitless with AVAD’s customer service ranging from professional assistance on general questions or support as well as help designing a professional AV integrated system, lighting system, and more. Integrators are never left in the dark with AVAD’s superior customer service solutions over the phone, online or at a customer experience center. Cleerline Technology Group Cleerline Technology Group not only offers the most advanced fiber optic connectivity products and a full line of parts integrators need to efficiently implement the best AV projects anywhere, but we provide stellar customer service for three reasons. The foundation of our service is first-hand experience in the integration industry – our principals bring 40+ years of practice installing top-notch systems in some of the largest homes across America, so we know exactly what integrators need to do their job correctly and efficiently every time. Second, that in-the-field knowledge helps us to quickly develop and deploy innovative products and solutions that meet the bleeding-edge needs of integrators in an industry evolving at the speed of light. Finally, our online resources, from a quick and intuitive ordering platform to a robust library of technical and training materials, provide AV pros with everything they need wherever and whenever they need it. Middle Atlantic Middle Atlantic provides the foundation that great systems are built on. The company’s extensive product lineup, from racks and mounts to connectivity and power solutions, is designed with integrators and their custom installation needs in mind. A customer-first philosophy drives every member of the organization, and a dedicated customer experience team is devoted to providing expert technical support, design services and rack installation walkthroughs. The company begins by listening to customers’ needs and delivering on requirements for product development, engineering, training, and education. With intuitive integrator tools such as its award-winner Configurator and onsite and online training via AV Academy, Middle Atlantic is committed to simplifying the integrator’s job and giving them the tools to build intuitive, personalized systems to meet the needs of any AV environment. In addition, in-house CTS prep certification training ensures Middle Atlantic’s designers and product managers speak the same language as the customers they serve. Peerless-AV Peerless-AV’s Solutions Support Unit, known as the Customer Care Department, is committed to providing exceptional service, while maintaining one-call resolution. Every Customer Care Representative obtains full Peerless-AV product training, as well as technical education, allowing them to answer customer issues efficiently and effectively. For highly technical issues, Peerless-AV relies on its team of “PeerTech Pros,” a group responsible for providing support surrounding all of Peerless-AV’s emerging technology and wireless solutions. With comprehensive and ongoing training, every representative can confidently commit to each call successfully, resulting in the industry’s finest customer care team. Peerless-AV’s Solutions Support Unit provides multiple options for support, including live chat, phone, video chat, email, and fax. With this expertise and detailed training, Peerless-AV’s Solutions Support Unit continues to provide exceptional support, creating a positive customer experience, year over year. Portal Portal is a complete, web-based, industry-specific product catalog that allows professional installers/dealers to find product information and make wholesale purchases from all of their suppliers in one place. Portal collects and organizes product data including pricing, availability, specifications, videos, and more. This is done by industry and category, then presented in a comprehensive yet intuitive web catalog, making it easier for resellers to ﬁnd what they need, build accurate proposals, and purchase products from their suppliers. Portal’s “Dealer Happiness” team provides customer service for dealers through phone calls, emails, demos and live chat right in the Portal app or on the Portal site. The Dealer Happiness team keeps the average response time on the in-app chat to less than 90 seconds typically. As mostly former dealers, the Portal team makes every effort to provide the type of customer service that they needed when they were Integrators. Sony Sony offers one of the strongest support and dealer communications programs for the CI channel of any major manufacturer. Our nationwide network of independent Manufacturer’s Reps (among the best in the business) ensures that you have someone local to your area that can assist with product and pricing questions, and that is communicating with you weekly to ensure you are informed of the latest products, programs and promotions. For more technical inquiries, Sony maintains a US-based, CEDIA-trained Custom Install support hotline (1-866-924-7669). And in the rare event that something does go wrong, Sony offers 14-day advance exchange on TV, and 60-day Advance Exchange on ES AV Receivers and ES Projectors. Vantage What better way to portray Vantage’s customer service standards than to let you hear from a customer service representative? “Vantage customer service representatives are attentive, to the point, and always eager to help,” says Bill Bates a long-time customer with Vantage. “If I need something on the spot, they’re always trying to pull through for me. I’ve never been disappointed.” Kenneth Flippen, the Vantage customer service representative for the area Bill Bates represents, says, “it’s the attitude we all take when we walk in the door. We’re the face of Vantage, and it’s our responsibility to make sure our dealers are getting the best service possible. We all do our best to maintain a ‘go get ‘em’ attitude all day every day.” Dealer Programs Crestron More than any other company, Crestron supports the industry with leading products, training, and services that drive success and grow business. The Crestron Partner Rewards Program (PRP) rewards Crestron Technology Professionals (CTPs) with more cash awards than ever before. The more you grow the more cash you’ll get back. You can earn awards in three ways: a Purchase Rebate, and a Quarterly Growth Rebate. The Crestron PRP is the industry’s most generous incentive program. In addition to cash rewards, Crestron shares in the investment for the CTPs to grow their business through marketing and market development activities. Epson Supporting the dealer ecosystem is of the utmost priority. Epson offers a line of Pro Cinema home theater products that are dedicated exclusively to the CEDIA channel unlike competitive offerings that are shared across multiple channels online, in retail and the CEDIA channel. To further protect channel integrity, Epson utilizes UMRP pricing policies to ensure channel integrity and to protect all dealers’ margins. In addition, Epson offers customized incentive campaigns to fit dealer needs, ranging from assistance with and the development of demo rooms as well as special offers, such as the company’s exclusive Pro Cinema package, which includes a spare lamp, mounting kit and extended warranty. RTI To guarantee the best-possible user experience and protect dealer profit margins, RTI’s Integration Designer programming software is available only to authorized dealers, and the RTI Certified Dealer program helps ensure its products are sold by trained custom-integration professionals. RTI takes a firm stance on products sold by unauthorized dealers online. A disclaimer on the RTI website notifies consumers that RTI products sold online are not covered by any type of warranty, and are not eligible for any type of service or support. RTI incentive programs include Control Bucks and Dealer Accommodation programs (for US dealers). Control Bucks are given to integrators who complete on-site training courses, and can be redeemed for RTI products and other merchandise. RTI dealers accumulate Control Bucks as they purchase RTI products. The company’s Dealer Accommodation program offers aggressive pricing for dealers who want to invest in RTI demo systems for their showroom or personal use. Sony Sony offers some of the strongest Custom Install dealer programs of any major manufacturer. We were a pioneer in unilateral pricing with our SURE program, which protects your profitability and is enforced by sophisticated monitoring algorithms and regular product buybacks. Our standard dealer programs offer free freight on orders over $1000, attractive product display programs and competitive promo plans to drive sales while maintaining strong margin for you. Dealers that can provide full-line support can avail of our CIS Diamond program, which offers some of the highest attainable profit margins in the industry on 4K TV’s, projectors and high-end receivers. Qualifying dealers can also take advantage of strong SPIFF programs to motivate salespeople to hit their sales targets out of the park. Vantage Vantage dealers are inclined to maintain a high clientele base due to the excellent incentives offered. Based on volume, dealers are awarded an improved discount off product, which results in a larger amount of revenue for them per product sold. Additionally, Vantage promotes their dealers on their website—a dealer who has sold more appears higher in the search results. So as potential clients search their zip code, the dealers with more project experience appear first on the list, thus directing more prospective customers to them. With Vantage’s integration with QMotion, dealers can provide integrated lighting and shading solutions with the benefits of faster setup and installation, increased margins, and improved homeowner experience. Sales and Marketing Support, Shipping Policies AVAD AVAD offers integrators with incomparable warranty and return policies and tech support because we’re customers, too. We understand the importance for exceptional return and exchange policies with minimal hassle, which is why we offer a 90-day “good as new” return program for any current product and, in the instance any product fails within 30 days, integrators can exchange it hassle-free. AVAD Tech Support offers integrators unparalleled product knowledge from an in-house team of experts, aimed at helping dealers hone their competitive edge and troubleshoot system integration. Integrators can take advantage of AVAD’s newly expanded Tech Support through their regional representative, a recently expanded call center service or through the enhanced web-portal. AVAD’s valuable support includes assistance from the AVAD System Design Group, a team of technology experts who provide residential and commercial design services including needs analysis, AutoCAD presentations and product selection. Epson Epson employs top channel sales representatives in the U.S. and Canada to support its channel partners and assist with specialty distribution of products for smaller dealers. Beyond sales support, a range of selling and marketing resources are available to Epson’s network of home theater dealers and custom installers, including localized marketing and d istributed marketing initiatives with Netsertive and Revenew. Programs are designed to enable Epson and its dealers to seamlessly collaborate on distributed marketing initiatives to drive local awareness and business. Participating Epson dealers receive turnkey, customized online marketing campaigns catered to their local markets with Internet search, display, mobile and social marketing to attract qualified buyers as well as track digital marketing result. EPV Screens EPV Screens has evolved with the CI market through its constant changes since 2008. Custom Installers contend with decreasing their margins to barely scrape out a price that entices customer participation. EPV offers high-end product at a price the general demographic can afford without compromising on the level of quality customers should expect. CI professionals can offer customers a better price while earning a higher margin at selling award winning product lines that carry ISF certifications on picture performance in addition to the product’s overall quality. Selling better for less also opens doors to growing the channel. EPV’s marketing team also produces informative multimedia messages in layman’s terms to promote customer awareness while establishing itself as a qualified teacher on the projection industry. All this is supported by a 3-year warranty and efficient turnaround time by its trained and professional team members. Peerless-AV Peerless-AV’s sales and marketing teams work together to develop easily digestible and aesthetically pleasing marketing collateral that the sales team relies on. Customer support is a top priority at Peerless-AV and this focus can be found in all aspects of the company, including sales and marketing. Highly connected and cross-trained, Peerless-AV’s sales team extends unified messages and quality support. With a focus on education and strategy, the team presents holistic, cohesive technology solutions from a single supplier. This efficiency and reliability has continued to be proven as a great benefit to partners and customers. Peerless-AV’s marketing team continuously looks for new and exciting ways to promote the company’s solutions. The team works closely with all of the industry publications and organizations, and has a strong foothold at all industry tradeshows. Together, Peerless-AV’s sales and marketing teams present winning solutions that exceed customers’ expectations, time and again. RTI RTI’s sales support includes a fresh, new website that puts the focus on the broad range of solutions that are possible with RTI user interfaces and custom programming. The new design features a day-in-the-life timeline with interactive elements that allow users to explore how RTI simplifies the home, office, and business through state-of-the-art automation. Furthermore, the website’s “Showcase” section is filled with incredible real-life installations to provide dealers and end-users with inspiration for their projects. Through RTI’s Case Study Program, dealers can submit details about recent projects for inclusion in RTI’s showcase, social media, and marketing collateral. Other support programs include the Control Bucks and Dealer Accommodation programs (For US dealers). Dealers earn Control Bucks as they purchase RTI products and by attending on-site training courses. Control Bucks can be redeemed for RTI products and other merchandise. The Dealer Accommodation program offers RTI products at reduced pricing for showroom use. Sony Sony is a brand that your customers love, and a brand that gives you the sales and marketing support tools you need to stand out from the competition. Our Dealer Source web portal offers impactful lifestyle photography and product messaging, so that you can present our full range of video and audio products with a consistent style that will draw attention. Our Premium Home app for iOS and Android gives you, your salespeople and your customers easy, mobile access to product information, photos and key selling points. Vantage Vantage provides our sales team and dealers with an app that assists in the sales process. This comprehensive app gives our sales team access to cut sheets, brochures, multiple presentations, and stunning images that offer an unparalleled sales tool for communicating with end users. The app is an interactive tool that guides dealers in communicating our Unique Selling Proposition with rich content designed for mobile presenting and an ‘elevator pitch’ format that can be quickly tailored to each individual customer. Concurrent with Vantage’s entire product line, the app is easy to use and offers a truly effortless experience. www.vantagecontrols.com/salesapp. Training Programs/Web Tools Capitol Capitol’s growth is directly attributable to its commitment to customer service, in particular its multi-tiered approach to training and education. Since 2009, the Capitol Learning Institute (CLI) has brought extensive education programs and certification training to professionals, both at the company’s headquarters and “off campus” at customers’ locations. CLI extends to trade events including CEDIA, where there is a full gamut of classes, and the web, where detailed webinars and the highly popular “Minute with Mike” series of concise instructional videos are available on Capitol’s YouTube channel. CLI courses are taught by the most experienced professionals, including factory trainers and Capitol’s own Technical Sales Specialists, who bring a lifetime of technical expertise and sales experience to programs that focus on the most lucrative opportunities in the CI channel to date. D-Tools Professional Services Group Comprised of a tenured team with deep industry knowledge and expertise, the D-Tools Professional Services Group’s (PSG) mission is to help those using the D-Tools platform become proficient, efficient, and effective. The team facilitates customer success by driving deeper adoption of the System Integrator (SI) platform. Offering hands-on training and 3rd party software integration support the PSG team helps customers make the most of their software investment. The PSG Group helps D-Tools customers fully explore and exploit the advanced functionality of the software and service packages available, including many that can be purchased a la carte or through convenient packages that bundle select services and training. Standard packages include Self-starter, Performance, and Pro options, but services can be bundled together and customized to meet a customer’s specific needs. D-Tools PSG team members are located across the US and are accessible for either online or on-site services in any time zone. Epson Epson’s training programs are designed to offer a detailed overview of models, features and performance capabilities to help dealers from sale to installation. The training content also extends to more advanced topics that aid in the installation of products, such as display modes, ISF calibration, and ultra-wide anamorphic lens training. Training is offered continuously throughout the year with ongoing visits to territories throughout the U.S. and Canada. Beyond training, technical content is made available to dealers along with access to tools such as an interactive distance calculator for throw distance and screen size. Middle Atlantic Middle Atlantic’s website constantly evolves to improve the user experience and streamline the selection of AV products and accessories. The intelligent interface presents a wealth of easy-to-navigate information including videos, diagrams, white papers, and A&E specifications. A key component of the site, Configurator enables customers to select, configure, quote and purchase the precise infrastructure system for even the most complex projects. It guides integrators through the selection of the correct components, making smart recommendations to ensure the design of the most reliable systems and save time, money, labor, freight and waste, as Middle Atlantic builds products to exact specifications. Integrators can even quickly order customized products, such as the RSH Rackshelf with a custom-cut face, with ease or choose among pre-configured solutions to expedite lead-time for tight deadlines. Based on extensive research and feedback from the company’s integration partners, the Configurator continues to improve every facet of the customer experience. Portal Portal is a complete, web-based, industry-specific product catalog that allows professional installers/dealers to find product information and make wholesale purchases from all of their suppliers in one place. Portal collects and organizes product data including pricing, availability, specifications, videos, and more. This is done by industry and category, then presented in a comprehensive yet intuitive web catalog, making it easier for resellers to ﬁnd what they need, build accurate proposals, and purchase products from their suppliers. Portal’s “Dealer Happiness” team provides customer service for dealers through phone calls, emails, demos and live chat right in the Portal app or on the Portal site. The Dealer Happiness team keeps the average response time on the in-app chat to less than 90 seconds typically. As mostly former dealers, the Portal team makes every effort to provide the type of customer service that they needed when they were Integrators. RTI RTI’s CEDIA-accredited Advanced Control University (ACU) training program enables dealers to enhance their knowledge of the RTI brand, product offering, and programming capabilities of RTI’s Integration Designer software. ACU delivers a number of training resources to accommodate varying learning styles including visual, audible, and actionable. RTI offers on-site training, pre-recorded tech support videos on the dealer site, technical bulletins for quick answers on specific programming topics, CEDIA and ISE training sessions off the show floor, and much more. Recently added programs include RTI Tech Talks and the DevX Conference. RTI Tech Talks provide integrators with an opportunity to discuss a specific RTI technology or control driver with the engineer in charge of its development. The annual DevX Conference offers hands-on training on writing two-way drivers at RTI’s headquarters. This wide variety of options allows RTI dealers to expand their knowledge on how to provide the ultimate in custom automation. Sony Sony recognizes the importance of equipping you with technical knowledge on how to sell and install our products; because of this we offer a wide range of resources for in-person and remote trainings. We hold numerous training sessions nationwide, hosted by our dedicated trainers for East, Central and Western regions, and our network of Manufacturer’s Representatives. And, in response to higher growth in the channel, Sony recently brought on an additional trainer, Ken Johnsen, to provide additional technical sales support. This is in addition to the extensive product and installation training sessions we offer at CEDIA, covering hot topics such as 4K and HDR content. For remote training, Sony’s Premium Home app offers easy access to product features, benefits and positioning. Our Install Support hotline (1-866-924-7669) is also available to answer questions that may arise as you install our products. The Powerhouse Alliance The PowerHouse Alliance distributor members keep dealers nationwide knowledgeable and on top of consumer electronic, security, automation and networking products and installation methods with trainings citing from local expertise. Each month, the 12 distributor members host certification and training programs as well as events, open houses, and webinars across the country; they also provide advice for dealers from each of their 39 locations to help them select the best products for their customers’ installations. Trainings are available for almost any manufacturer, and popular training series from members have included networking and integration, URC Total Control and MX HomePro, Yamaha, Jamo, JVC, 2GIG training and more. Beyond courses that are hosted each week, dealers can benefit from annual events hosted by members throughout the year that showcase new vendors, manufacturer product demos, and multiple other options on-site at each location. Vantage Vantage’s training repertoire includes many resources to ensure our dealers are able to obtain a comprehensive education. Online training modules coupled with instructional YouTube videos provide quick access to key information required on-the-job. Our factory and in-field training program utilizes a hands-on approach to project specification and planning, hardware installation, as well as software and app programming. Vantage provides its dealers with all the tools they will need to be well prepared and successful. We also have regional training specialists available to provide in-person training and presentations at the facility or venue you choose. Warranty/Return Policy/Tech Support AVAD AVAD offers integrators with incomparable warranty and return policies and tech support because we’re customers, too. We understand the importance for exceptional return and exchange policies with minimal hassle, which is why we offer a 90-day “good as new” return program for any current product and, in the instance any product fails within 30 days, integrators can exchange it hassle-free. AVAD Tech Support offers integrators unparalleled product knowledge from an in-house team of experts, aimed at helping dealers hone their competitive edge and troubleshoot system integration. Integrators can take advantage of AVAD’s newly expanded Tech Support through their regional representative, a recently expanded call center service or through the enhanced web-portal. AVAD’s valuable support includes assistance from the AVAD System Design Group, a team of technology experts who provide residential and commercial design services including needs analysis, AutoCAD presentations and product selection. Capitol There is an important difference between simply buying products and receiving unshakable customer service from inquiry to sale. Capitol caters to specialists, but even the most experienced specialists need assistance with systems design that is tailored to projects of every size. This is what drives Capitol to employ a team of Sales Engineers who are equipped with the knowledge and experience to help customers assemble systems that satisfy end-users while ensuring the greatest possible margin for the job. From pre-sales design to the project’s completion, Capitol’s Sales Engineers bring a wealth of knowledge that is unmatched in the market, thanks to their years of experience in our customers’ and vendors’ shoes. Telecommunications, networking, and A/V are just a few of their areas of expertise. Their intimate familiarity with both the technology and the market makes them especially valuable to the distributor’s customer base. Epson Product performance and customer satisfaction is a top priority. Epson offers industry leading service and support, including toll-free access to Epson’s PrivateLine priority technical support, a three year warranty on its Pro Cinema models sold exclusively to the CEDIA channel, including free two-business day exchange/replacement with Extra CareSM Home Service. Via Epson’s PrivateLine, customers are provided direct access to advanced technical staff to address product needs as quickly as possible. Metra Home Theater Group Metra Home Theater Group provides unmatched, in-house Tech Support services for valued-customers. The in-house Tech Support, located at Metra Home’s headquarters in Holly Hill, FL, is led by the product development team, those that understand many of the problems integrators are facing and are invested in creating solutions to solve those problems. Integrators can speak directly with industry-leading professionals to find quality solutions for any product or installation problem they might be facing. In addition, Metra Home Theater Group provides integrators with an exceptional warranty policy, including a limited lifetime warranty on all cables, a five-year warranty on mounts, a three-year warranty on all power products and Spyclops DVR’s and Cameras, and a one year warranty on all adaptor accessories, HDMI products, antennas, hand tools and Spyclops power supplies and accessories. Nearly every product available from Metra Home Theater Group is covered under their warranty policy. The DaVinci Group The DaVinci Group works every day to provide the best possible support to our dealers. Our Warranty Programs are a key part of providing exceptional service to them. We believe a great program is not only what is in writing but in how its implemented. We offer a Lifetime Warranty on our speakers and a 5-year warranty on our electronics. If a product needs to be replaced, we make every effort to get a new one delivered as soon as possible. We realize waiting is not an option for most installations. That’s why if required we will expedite replacement products at our expense. We also recognize the extra effort and expense incurred in replacing defective products so we issue a credit to our dealers’ accounts to help offset the expense of a truck-roll when they have to replace an installed product that fails under warranty. Vantage Vantage has the best warranty in the industry. We offer a warranty of up to five years on all products, which means our dealers and their customers are protected when it comes to their equipment. Our dealers never need to worry about a product malfunction disrupting the good customer relationships they’ve worked so hard to establish. Additionally, our products are designed to be backward compatible and future ready. For example, Vantage systems installed 20 years ago are upgradeable to today’s new technologies—another reason our dealers are able to maintain such remarkable and long-lasting relationships with their clients.