With the holiday season upon us, I’m reminded of a predicament I found myself in a couple of years ago. A friend of my parents planned a combination holiday party and Trailer Park Boys marathon. I remain mystified by the obsession my parents and their peers, doctors, judges, university administrators and similar, have with watching the Trailer Park Boys, but that’s not important right now.
On the eve of a big party, the host decided to move all his AV gear out of the den and into a bigger room, with better seating capacity for his guests. Only once he had unplugged everything and moved it all did he realize that he didn’t have the first clue how to plug it all back together again. In a panic, I was called and tasked with rebuilding his system.
Putting it all together was second-nature, obviously. Following my mental checklist I did it all by the book: switching the video sources through the AV Receiver to the TV and programming the AVR remote to control the devices.
These are set-up decisions that are on autopilot for AV pros, things we take for granted. When I had finished, and was walking him step by step through how to operate the system, he kept saying, “I didn’t know I could do that!”
It became clear to me that prior to this intervention he had not gotten real surround sound or a real HDTV picture out of his system. Let’s not even mention the constellation of remote controls he had laid out on a table. I was shocked to learn that he had bought all his AV gear from a specialty Hi-Fi shop and not a big box chain. They sold it all to him and left him to figure it out for himself.
Despite protestations to the contrary, client care in the higher-end AV retail channel falls into two groups: comprehensive or non-existent.
As much as the boutique channel likes to feel superior, and mock the big box stores, room for improvement often remains. I thought that age of expecting to make a living selling boxes was a thing of the past, but it’s probably unsurprising in retrospect.
Certainly among my own customer base of dealer, there remain a few who are in denial that their business is changing and they need to change with it. However, there are fewer of them now than there were last year, or the year before that.
In order to thrive, dealers have to commit to taking care of their clients, in ways both small and large — from basic hand-holding, to really ensuring that the client’s needs have been met, to offering value-added services, to long term follow-up to ensure lasting satisfaction.
Could the dealer my parent’s friend bought his gear from have been counted on to re-install his equipment, for a fee, of course? Maybe, but we’ll never know. It’s telling that it didn’t occur to him to even ask them.
No matter how well you think you’re doing when it comes to looking after your clients, it’s valuable to look deeper, and rather than rest on your laurels, actively look for ways to improve your client care.