Following a conversation thread that started on the CEDIA Community board regarding customer care programs, CEDIA set up a conference call with 35 member participants to explore the conversation further and share insights and experience. We’ve extrapolated some highlights here, and we’ll have additional thoughts from the session in two more parts.
Do you use a third-party provide or do you have an in-house solution?
Mike Ranpura, Smart Life AV (London, UK):
It's becoming apparent that it really depends on where you are with your business. I’m a one-man band and I find that there's real value in having a care plan for all of our clients, but we make the cost flexible depending on how much equipment is installed. This allows us to deliver proactive and reactive maintenance. We actively maintain communication with all of our clients every month, which gives us an opportunity to sell additional services.
Mark Feinberg, Home Theater Advisors (NY, NY):
We've been using Parasol for around a year and a half. They will reboot systems and they will help talk clients through reattaching an IR emitter or how to navigate menus on an Apple TV, for example. The real benefit is my quality of life. It means that I don't have to answer calls on the weekends. If the customer is paying for a 24/7 support plan, it goes to Parasol and they typically answer 60 – 70% of the calls that come in. I only have to deal with the remaining 30 – 40%. If you're not on the service plan, it's pretty clear up front that you don't get night and weekend support. We've got about 20 clients on it and we're making money on every single one of them. So, it has made my quality of life dramatically better, and it's still profitable.
James Ratcliffe, Homeplay (Sunbury-on-Thames, England, UK):
We started using OneVision and then moved the service in-house. We found that our clients like dealing with our engineers as they know them and their systems and by just paying them to be on call and spreading the load by using a rota, there is always someone on call. The main thing for us is that we’ve managed to get our clients paying for priority.
Bryan Mills, Mills Technologies (Chicago, IL):
We have been on the OneVision platform for about three years. One of the biggest things in making it successful is setting expectations with clients — just because you can reach me out of hours doesn't mean that you're able to do it without paying for it and having a third-party system in place has helped with this. Using a third-party platform doesn't stop us having relationships on the service side with our clients. In most cases, the third-party provider is creating an organisational structure and an escalation path for events to happen, but we're still touching a huge majority of the tickets that come through. It's just done in a much more organized and processed manner.
Chad Nichols, SimpTech Solutions (Cincinnati, OH)
We have been using OneVision for a year and I’d like to echo Bryan’ feedback. One of the key learnings for us is the amount of effort to get the legacy clients converted to a membership plan. It was a lot more daunting and harder than I thought it would be. You have to be really conservative on how aggressive you can be moving your legacy clients to a plan, because they've been spoilt by all of us with personal phones call and great service. On the flip side, we're enjoying great success with our new clients, as they buy into the service plan easily when we have those discussion upfront.Nicolai Landschultz, IndigoZest (Watford, Herts, UK)
We have quite a lot of customers on our support plans, but we haven't got an outsource provider yet. I'd love to find somebody who would work well in the U.K. market, as I think it would be a nice way to take some of the workload off the engineers and potentially present a better front to our customers.Chase Mosman, Integration Controls (St. Louis, MO)
When we started using OneVision, we only had five people at the company so we decided that in order to grow, we needed some assistance as it was becoming a full-time job to manage the amount of service calls. Having the structures in place that OneVision offers has made it super easy to make sure that we're setting those proper expectations and maintaining relationships with every one of those clients. It really does make your life a lot easier and gives you your life back on the weekends.