Remember the old days of air travel? Bags flew free before one airline made it a slogan. There weren’t á la carte options for legroom or snacks, and now and then an upgrade to first class could be had just for the asking.
When that changed, some people were understandably upset. But there’s a whole generation of folks — heck, multiple generations now — who are vastly more familiar with the Spirit Air or JetBlue models of “pick this or that” upgrade or “extra for this or that” price.
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That’s the starting point for the lunchtime class presented by Joey Kolchinsky of OneVision Resources at a recent CEDIA Tech Summit. Kolhcinsky’s a guy who’s transitioned completely from the integration business to the service-provider industry.
“It’s about expectations,” says Kolchinsky, noting that for a lot of integration firms, the client’s expectations are: When they call, you jump. No matter the time, no matter the place, no matter the circumstance.
Kolchinsky’s developed a plan — admittedly via trial and error — that elevates the notion of a service contract to something that’s as important as proper speaker placement or sound isolation. It’s a paradigm shift that involves careful framing. When a client calls, who are they talking to? What steps will the person repping your firm walk the customer through before the decision’s made to roll a truck?
Internally, the concept involves companies thinking carefully about how they’re structuring — and streamlining — the service process. “Often, the service coordinator — the person who’s scheduling a visit if that’s necessary — is completely overqualified,” notes Kolchinsky. “Firms think they need someone who’s well-versed in every technical aspect of the home scheduling those truck rolls. It’s not necessary.”
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Kolchinsky is fond of a multi-tiered solution that integrators can offer their clients at the outset (and, if your company’s not farming out remote monitoring or any other service, ensuring that there are employees dedicated to this aspect of the biz alone).
That tiered system starts with a zero-dollar, minimalist agreement that guarantees little more than a return phone call at some point in the future — and tops out with a “signature” service that cost monthly fees that run well into four figures and beyond. In between, there are levels that guarantee response times and checkups, but whatever level the client picks, they agree to that service plan on day one.
And what is day one? In the integration field, that definition can be murky, but Kolchinsky narrows it down: “The moment any user begins interacting with their system, that’s day one. You can have technicians finishing up punch lists or what have you, but the moment someone in the home turns on a display, they’ve gone from ‘installation client’ to ‘service client.’”
It’s important to make clear what’s covered — and what isn’t — when that transition occurs. There’s got to be transparency regarding how and when the job morphs from punch list to service contract.
“If you set the expectation that there’s going to be peace of mind,” says Kolchinsky, “that a set monthly fee will mean attention will be paid (and the customer won’t get dinged for the entire billable hour it took to, say, reboot one device) — well, clients can do that math pretty quickly.”