For many home technology installers, it’s easy to get stuck in a project-based mindset. Projects have a beginning (discovery, design, engineering); middle (procurement, staging, installation, programming); and end (calibration, training, optimization). Once the final walk-through with the client is done, and they have been taught how to use their system, they tend to think of projects as having come to an end.
For homeowners, however, this is just the beginning of the journey.
The resources and services that a home technology provider can deliver after a project is complete has as much impact on the client experience over the lifetime of a system as any part of the installation process.
These are 5 things that a homeowner, builder, architect, or designer should look for when selecting a home technology professional. All of these items are focused on the user experience, not just finishing a project:
- System documentation: Detailed construction documents are vital for an efficient installation and are even more crucial when a technician needs to make updates or service a system during ongoing maintenance.
Simple speaker placements and equipment locations drawn over a set of plans from a builder does not cut it. If your integrator does not provide detailed rack elevations, network diagrams, and engineering documents, including labeled wires, outlets, and inputs, making changes and supporting clients can be a painful experience for everyone.
- After-hours support: Movie night with the family. A dinner party with friends. Super Bowl Sunday. Life’s most special moments don’t happen during normal business hours. In fact, evenings and weekends are the most common times for home technology to be used.
Your home technology provider should have a documented process in place that ensures you get help quickly and consistently- whenever you need it.
- Dedicated service team: Homeowners rely on the technology in their daily lives more now than ever before. As a result, service demands are increasingly urgent. Your technology provider should have resources dedicated to helping clients in the moment.
Many integrators and “A/V guys” are quick to say that they will be there for their clients whenever they need help. However, in most cases that means catching a salesman walking into a meeting with another client, an “on-call” technician working on another project, or a small business owner stepping away from dinner with their family. Savvy homeowners should realize that these are not scalable solutions to supporting clients- particularly as the scope of home technology increases.
- Remote monitoring and management: In the same way that your smart phone, tablet, or computer require the occasional software update or reboot, technology in the home requires occasional basic troubleshooting to keep things running smoothly.
With the right tools and software in place, your home technology provider can frequently troubleshoot and provide basic support remotely without the need to send a technician into the home.
More advanced remote troubleshooting tools allow your technology provider to monitor the status of connected devices and receive alerts proactively when problems arise. Remote systems monitoring can be a valuable service, but it is important that your provider has the service resources to react to notifications in real time.
- Service Level Agreement: Communication solves all problems, and the key to a good service experience is proper expectation management. Service level agreements (SLAs) are used in technology services to inform clients of exactly what they can expect in terms of hours of availability and response times for both remote and on-site support. Your home technology provider should have a documented service level agreement so that you are never left wondering when you will get the help that you need.
Every company wants to provide a great experience for their clients. An SLA is the difference between best effort and a guarantee.
The technology in our homes and lives is constantly evolving. As the systems that we depend on become increasingly complex, the need for ongoing technology support must be taken into consideration when selecting a home technology professional. Apps will need to be updated. Devices will need to be reset. The ongoing relationship between homeowner and technology provider is more important than any other trade that works in the home. As a homeowner, your technology provider should be a trusted advisor and technology manager- not just an installer or contractor.
Whether you are building a new home, updating the technology in your current home, or are an architect, builder, or interior designer advising clients on audio/video, lighting, shades, security and surveillance, or any other smart home technology, it is important to ask your provider detailed questions about how they plan to support you after your project is complete.