<strong>Customer Service in the Era of the Internet</strong>

Customer Service in the Era of the Internet

July 19, 2018
Audio/Visual System Support

By Scott Martin

I’ve been immersed in the customer service field almost my entire life. My journey began growing up in the family-owned restaurant business, and I’ve been involved in customer service ever since as a professional in the Audio/Visual market.

Throughout the years I’ve had a front row seat to the customer service landscape being turned upside down with the invention of the internet. With one-button purchases available from Amazon, a colossal of products on eBay, and the countless online equipment stores touting the sale item of the day — One has to ask, is there still a need for a personal, one-on-one relationship between a purchaser and buyer? The emergence of YouTube as a visual education source, along with the transition of electronic system management from Facilities Departments to IT Departments has birthed an era of DIY self-education, which seems to remove the need to call on a local professional for support.

In my current experience as an Audio/Visual professional, this is far from reality. I always get calls outside of business hours seeking system support. Systems have become more complex. Legal standards are introduced that require components to play well with each other or they will not work (i.e. High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection or HDCP). More and more products are being controlled or data is transferred on the Local Area Network (LAN).

Integrating these systems with easy-to-use controls that the user can understand is a challenge. The customer relationship doesn’t end after the installation and training. Customers need more support than they did in the past. Electronic systems are capable of things that never used to be possible, which often requires advanced configuration that can’t be pre-packaged. With the House of Worship market, I’m usually working hand-in-hand with customers for their first several system uses doing training and operation. I work close with historic theater customers for their first three to four system uses and have provided support for specific events when the house person is not available. There are schools that I visit every year to train the new audio console operators.

You won’t get this kind of customer service through an equipment website’s toll-free number or from the Amazon App. Once you purchase a product from them, that’s it. They don’t provide on-going support to make sure your system is programmed to work for that big event next week. It’s going to be tough to find an instructional YouTube video for your exact situation. The internet has streamlined purchasing products, but it hasn’t been able to replace the convenience and efficiency of having a technical professional working right beside you showing you exactly how to do something with your system. My whole career I’ve always enjoyed helping customers with their systems to achieve their goals. It’s always a good feeling seeing a customer’s event or worship go as planned with their Audio/Visual System doing exactly what they want it to. Internet or no internet, I’m going to continue serving our customers’ needs through a successful partnership.