I have been harping on this for years. I have been telling everyone in the AV industry that to survive the future of AV, services need to be front and center, along with the products.
Sure, a good mix of products with both established technology as well as future-forward, emerging technology is a giant part of the story of the evolution of AV into or part of IT, but just as important is a host of services.
Like what? Well, the low-hanging fruit is obviously service contracts, proactive maintenance contracts, systems monitoring contracts [Let me get off on a tangent on this one — I was at the AVI Systems LIVE show in Chicago a few weeks ago and I saw something they are calling AVI INSIGHT — genius! The company has developed a universal systems-monitoring software dashboard to monitor (and control) disparate systems from any manufacturer. Again, genius. This is a service AVI Systems can pretty much charge whatever it wants for it because the purchaser (i.e., the client) is basically buying job security from AVI Systems], creative services, digital signage network management, collaboration network management, training, etc.
You get the point. Services are way, way more profitable than products. But the truth is that not everyone can sell an intangible. The same salesperson who can sell a $100K system can’t always sell that $7K service contract. But someone can! And, if not, you’d better figure our how to or “they’ll” find someone who can.
Selling intangibles — or at a minimum, giving away intangibles to ensure both client loyalty and customer satisfaction — is the the future. But, selling something you can’t hold, touch, demo or ship isn’t as easy as selling a widget. It just isn’t.
Take a look at this from Apple — it’s called TODAY at APPLE and it launched last week with very little fanfare — but you can bet it will be big. Apple knows it. I know it.
In the video, you saw an Apple Store that looks more like a cross between a private concert venue, a Starbucks and a classroom lab. No product commercial, no tech specs. Just people hanging out in the Apple Store having fun, getting educated, learning a new skill, just meeting people or just living the Apple life.
That’s not only a glimpse into the Apple future — a future where Apple will likely, inexpensively turn their mall-based stores into gathering places for all-of-the-above — but this video is also a glimpse into the tech future too. A future where people buy what they feel more comfortable with — not what they are sold. A future where people value services over products. A future where peer influence is the strongest factor in purchasing decisions — what your buddies say and do becomes what you trust.
I can go on and on about this, but this should be lighting bulbs inside of your head, reader. The ideas are (and should be) endless.
But the lesson here is one of how important the true service is — not just talking about service or assuming the product (or the salesperson, for that matter) will garner the loyalty.
Good, fun, interesting, educational, job-saving service will.