The ‘Problem Client’ Responds

Last month, we ran a hypothetical letter that many integrators would like to send to their problem client ("Stan"), an affluent heavyweight who demands VIP treatment that he believes he’s paid for. Though our integrator felt completely justified in airing his vexation, the client deserves a chance to voice his perspective. Here’s what Stan might have to say...
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Last month, we ran a hypothetical letter that many integrators would like to send to their problem client, dubbed “Stan”—an affluent heavyweight who demands VIP treatment that he believes he’s paid for, including late-night service calls on weekends.

Though our integrator felt completely justified in airing his vexation, we felt that we should give the client a chance to voice his perspective. Here’s what Stan might have to say:

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Dear AV Installer,

I’m sorry for the delay in getting back to you; I’ve been away at my second home in the islands. You know, the one we flew you and your team to for the installation of my system? The system that never seems to work quite right either but that we’ve just learned to live with it? Perhaps we’ll find a local company to help service it next time we’re down there. Although we’d love to get you re-engaged on it, as I’d prefer a relationship with a single company that could manage both properties, and am willing to pay a premium if I could simply be assured that things will get taken care of when needed.

It’s unfortunate that you seeing my name on your phone causes such a visceral reaction. But, to be fair, me having to pick up the phone and call you that night wasn’t exactly a high priority on my to-do list either.

I had forgotten about the ability I had to do cable box reboots. Perhaps if that had been included in the custom user manual that you said you’d get me, but never delivered, I would not have had to call you. I know, I know, you did give me a giant binder full of manufacturers’ manuals. Question for you… have you ever actually tried to find a specific piece of useable information within one of these binders? It’s not exactly what I’d call a great experience.

All of this ignores a critical point, of course: How the heck am I supposed to know that rebooting the cable box would have fixed my latest problem? I’m a business executive, not an AV specialist. That’s your job. And to address your point about me having 10 other TVs in the house: Yes, that is true, but I only have TV in my master bedroom, which happens to be where I prefer to sleep. Do you ever just want to watch a show in bed to wind down after a long, stressful day? I sure do...

Regarding other tradesmen, it so happens that I can call a number of them at 11 p.m. on a Sunday and get an immediate response. In fact, right off the top of my head, my electrician, HVAC contractor, and plumber all have 24/7 contact numbers that I can use, without being made to feel guilty about it, I might add. In fact, this was a prominent part of their pitch during the bid process for those scopes of work. I didn’t think to ask you about providing the same service because when your salesman convinced me to buy this fancy system (instead of the much more basic setup that the other guy was proposing) he promised it would bulletproof.

Forgive my frustration, but the experience I’ve had with this system from day one has not lived up to that “bulletproof” promise. Perhaps if you had done a better job of managing my expectations coming into this relationship, we wouldn’t be at loggerheads all the time. Let’s find a time to talk. I think some new arrangements for how we approach service and maintenance are in order. I hope we can find a way to make it work.

Let me know your thoughts...

- Stan

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