Part of the Problem? Or the Solution?
This Post Originally Appeared on Residential Systems on May 16, 2017
How changing your own perception of service raises your value in the eyes of your clients.
As an integrator, it can be all too easy to think of service as an exercise in damage control. You know that technology will fail; it’s only a matter of when and how often. So you write off occasional frustration on the part of your clients as an inevitability and go on about your business, hoping the service calls remain at a minimum. When the calls do come, you do your best to address them as quickly as possible. Perhaps you send an invoice, or maybe not, but you likely think little more about it. This is the break/fix model, and for decades it’s served its purpose in the connected home.
But technology has evolved, becoming increasingly interconnected and underlying nearly aspect of your clients’ lives. This has created an environment of rising demand for 24/7, instant availability on the part of your service team. The internet hiccups on a Thursday night and now the kids can’t do homework? You get the call. Firmware update locks up a cable box and now the crew can’t watch Sunday’s prime-time game? Your phone is blowing up. These incidents are nothing new, of course. But, the frequency with which they are occurring is new, and it leaves you with two choices: be part of the problem, or be part of the solution.
If you’re only viewing service through the break/fix lens, then you’re not seeing the whole picture. Service becomes a liability when seen in this light, making it easy to send the call at 8 p.m. on Sunday to voicemail. After all, you’d like to watch the big game as well. The cable box has locked up before. You’ve explained to the client that it’s out of your control and even shown them how to reboot it themselves. Either they’ll figure it out themselves, or you’ll deal with it in the morning.
The problem is, now your client sees you as part of the problem. He’s embarrassed in front of his friends, who likely know how much he spent on this fancy media room. He’s in need of a scapegoat, and you’re the prime candidate. Perhaps he will figure it out eventually. Or perhaps guilt will catch up with you around half time, when you pick up the phone and walk him through the solution. Either way, it’s too late. In all likelihood, your relationship with the client carries on, but the stain of that incident never fully vanishes from his mind.
If, however, instead of looking at service as an inherent liability, you view it as a chance to be part of the solution, you begin to see the whole picture of service. It starts to look less like a game of technological whack-a-mole, and more like a market with infinite demand. There is valuable need to be served here, and who better to play the hero than you?
When viewed in this way, it’s clear to see that what you are repairing during a service incident is not the tech itself, but rather the client’s feelings about the tech, for which your company is forever a proxy. Instead of shying away from this fact, you’re better served by embracing it, stepping up to own the entire experience, including when things go south. It can be hard to see this true, underlying value when you’re in the moment. Meeting this demand, after all, can be taxing on you and your team (although there are proven ways to do so sustainably).
In the end, the results are well worth the effort. Selling on service allows you to aim your value proposition squarely at the emotions underlying tech. This is a powerful tactic.
Clients are already beginning to understand that tech failures are, in fact, inevitable, and that when and how often these failures occur are variables that are largely out of your control. What is under your control is the ability to respond quickly and reliably, 24/7, coming to the rescue when your clients need you most. Lead with this story in your sales process and watch your revenues grow. But, be prepared to follow it up with excellent, 24/7 service so that you’re always part of the solution.
Are you a business owner or service manager? Did you find this article helpful? If so, check out this post as well – The Easy Way to Get Paid for Basic Support
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