Why I Like InfoComm’s New APEx Program

likeI actually heard about InfoComm’s new APEx program about three weeks before InfoComm announced it formally. I attended an InfoComm roundtable event in Irvine, Calif. where Duffy Wilbert , SVP of member services, described how the organization intended to raise the bar on customer experience and thought leadership.

Duffy related that InfoComm had come to the conclusion that the CAVSP (Certified Audiovisual Service Provider) Program just wasn’t creating the end results they wanted and had become irrelevant. In his words, they told him it either needed to be “killed” or “revamped.”  The result of that realization led InfoComm’s team to create this new program, APEx.

Gary Kayye put out a brief description of the program already, so instead of rewriting that, I’ll just give you the link here.

The part of Gary’s article I want to comment on though is summed up in one of his paragraphs.

The InfoComm International Audiovisual Providers of Excellence program also mandates the use of two industry standards to foster better communication between the AV provider and the client. Because both the ANSI/INFOCOMM Standard Guide for Audiovisual Systems Design and Coordination Processes and the AV System Performance Verification Standard were developed in an open, consensus-based process, approved by an independent outside body, and are aimed at providing proper communication and documentation between the AV industry and the client, using both on several projects is a requirement.

What exactly does this mean?

Well in a nutshell, it means that integrators will be required to get report cards from their clients to stay in the program.

InfoComm states this clearly in their FAQ:

You will ask your customer to expect an online survey on your firm’s work. The completed form is sent to InfoComm. Only surveys with an overall positive rating will count toward InfoComm APEx status.

The online customer surveys are a required element of the program. Small companies must provide two positive customer response surveys annually, while medium companies are required to provide four, and large companies must provide six.

I remember in the roundtable event that Duffy seemed a bit tentative when relating that APEx would include a client rating system and the room was completely silent other than my exclamation of “Yes!”

So why did InfoComm decide to take this long overdue step? According to them:

 It was also decided that the AV customer should have a role in determining whether or not customer satisfaction was achieved.

Wow! Really? The CUSTOMER should have something to say about CUSTOMER SATISFACTION???  What a novel idea!

All snark aside, I applaud InfoComm for finally making this a part of its programs. This is something I have a history of fighting for over time, and a change I have been actively campaigning for.

Back in May of 2012, I wrote an article that asked if the lack of some measure of real world performance in InfoComm’s programs decreased their value. At the time I got some scathing comments on the subject and it was rumored the article was even mentioned by InfoComm in a closed door meeting that year.

At InfoComm 2013, I was a guest on a RedBand Radio podcast that addressed the subject as well and I reasserted the need for some type of customer rating system for CAVSP, again to mixed reactions by the other panelists.

That discussion spurred a follow up article in June 2013, in which I asserted that CTS was nothing like a driver’s license.

I finally joined in a discussion group on LinkedIn that questioned the value of CTS and made similar comments that were met with mixed reactions.

I have also been known to poke at InfoComm on Twitter about the subject. All this aside, my emotional outburst at the roundtable was due to some sense of accomplishment in hearing that something I had been campaigning for so long had finally been brought to fruition.

It would be hubris to assume I am the only one who made this happen, but if my vocalization of the thoughts of others helped to bring this requirement into APEx, than I am proud to be a small part of it.

What do you think of a client survey system in the APEx program? Chime in in the comments!