Managing Your AV Guilt

Stop Apologizing to Clients, Make Service Plans Part of Your Business
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Stop Apologizing to Clients, Make Service Plans Part of Your Business

They say the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. And so I’d like to make a confession: I suffer from AV-guilt attacks. Although not widely discussed, this condition affects many home technology professionals. Symptoms of AV guilt, which can range in severity, include an unwillingness to openly discuss service and maintenance with your clients; a tendency to apologize for system failures for which you bear no real responsibility; a hesitancy to bill for service labor, even on out-of-warranty projects; and a loss of quality personal time outside of work.

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If you are experiencing any of these, then you too might be suffering from AV guilt. But do not despair. Once I became aware of the condition, I was able to take steps that have reduced the effects of AV guilt on my life. And while there’s no known medical cure, these steps have helped me manage the condition. Now I’m passing them on, in hopes that they will help you too.

Sell on Service

When engaging with a new client, discuss your company’s approach to service early and often. Not only does this give you a chance to discuss what differentiates you, but it sets proper expectations about the need for ongoing maintenance of home technology systems. By explaining that service after the sale is a core part of your business, you position yourself as an advocate for your clients. This further reinforces the message that technology is not bulletproof, and that you’ll be there to help when issues arise. By harvesting this mutual understanding, you will reduce the feelings of surprise and frustration on the part of your clients when issues arise, thereby minimizing the likelihood of an AV guilt attack.

Sell RSM on Every Job

The RSM (remote systems management) landscape has shifted dramatically in the last couple of years. Many different options now exist with low, or no ongoing licensing fees, meaning RSM should go into every project, with no exceptions. In the absence of an RSM system for remote troubleshooting and diagnostics, technical issues that could have easily been discovered and quickly repaired turn into failures at critical times. This results in urgent phone calls from your clients, which act as a major trigger for AV guilt attacks. By including RSM on every project, and openly explaining to your clients why it is needed, you will remove a prime breeding ground for the onset of AV guilt.

Stop Apologizing

Joey Kolchinsky at OneVision Resources turned me onto this concept, which has greatly reduced the frequency of AV guilt attacks that I experience. For many of us, the first tendency when we receive a support request is to apologize, saying something like,“I’m really sorry for your frustration.” The problem is that, except in the rare cases where a mistake was made, you have nothing to apologize for. Typically these technical issues are completely out of your control. In these instances apologizing is exactly the wrong thing to do.

By saying “sorry,” you are sending a subtle, but unmistakable message to your client that there is something you could have done to prevent this. Try instead saying something like, “I understand this is frustrating, and we will work hard to resolve it as quickly as possible.” This shift in messaging helps remove a harmful perception of undue responsibility.

For too long I allowed AV guilt to take root in my psyche, deeply affecting not only my work but also my personal life. I credit the team at Ihiji for helping me recognize the problem as a manageable condition. While I have not been able to rid my life entirely of AV guilt attacks, I have been able to reduce their frequency by aggressively managing expectations with my clients, fully leveraging RSM to minimize the impact of technical issues, and focusing on my positioning as an advocate for my clients.