Technology is, by nature, always changing, and so is the audiovisual industry. Globalization and IT/AV convergence have accelerated changes to the way people relate within the industry. AV pros now must collaborate with other tech pros all over the world.
Integrators not only have to know more about an increasing number of technologies, but they’re having to rethink the way they approach their relationships with customers.
Be Someone Users Call for Help
Participants of the PSNI Live at Supersummit: End-User Panel discussed why integrators need to change the way they communicate with their clients. Rather than focusing on messaging busy technology managers and other clients about the latest products, integrators should focus on being a resource. Panelists explained that this means you should:
- Be accessible. Let your clients call you with questions and predicaments—and respond quickly.
- Attend industry events. This is where many of your clients go to learn about new products, so this is when they have time to talk to you about what they need.
- Act as a go-between. A tech manager may not currently be in the market for an audiovisual solution, but they may need an integrator to act as the intermediary between them and a manufacturer. These acts establish trust and position you as an expert should the client need an integrator down the road.
- Be proactive. Reach out to clients when you have useful information. If you know there is a manufacturer recall, rebate, promotion, etc., share that with them so they know you’re a knowledgeable resource.
Many tech managers already have relationships with vendors, so they are more likely to work with someone who has a history with them or who has been available to answer their questions.
Understand End User Needs
When your clients do need new products and integration projects, it helps if you have demonstrated your ability to understand who the client is, what they do, and what they need in terms of technology, goals, and processes. You can grow this kind of relationship by asking clients about their challenges and listening to what they have to say versus promoting yourself, your company, or proposed solutions.
Even after a client comes to you asking for ideas or solutions, be sure to ask questions to get a clear idea of their pain points and long-term goals.
Watch Out for Bad Apples
It takes just one “bad” team member to spoil your whole company for a client. It doesn’t matter what their role is—all client-facing team members become the face of your company’s standards, ethics, and humanness.
Dawn Meade, end user and former integrator, said "If you hire or have one bad seed, you can do a lot of damage—with one bad technician or one bad engineer or one bad salesperson, you can burn a lot of bridges."
Whether someone exhibits questionable business practices, follows sloppy processes, is slow to respond to clients, or uses aggressive sales tactics, they can damage the reputation of the whole company. On the other hand, positive experiences can solidify long-lasting relationships.
How to Build Industry Relationships
In addition to attending industry events, joining relevant industry organizations can help you improve relationships with other AV professionals as well as learn best practices for interacting with clients and other tech pros.
PSNI members must adhere to standards of excellence in their service to clients. Whether you are a PSNI member or not, the panelists in the video provide valuable insights into what it means to offer such great service.
Check out what end-users from diverse backgrounds have to say about their integrator relationship in this video.