This year’s “A/V Forward” theme for the InfoComm International Conference hints at an industry of professionals wholly embracing the advancement of technology. They enjoy how fast it moves and don’t mind keeping up. They accept new products as eagerly as new customers. It’s fun and it’s live and they roll with the punches of an ever-changing industry.
But I haven’t experienced too many A/V professionals who accept the totality of a forward-moving technology industry. They’ve embraced quite a bit but skip over a serious determining factor: The faster technology advances, the more the consumer/professional relationship must change. The more complex the products get, the more help customers require. Using tech products isn’t as easy as popping a tape into a VCR anymore. Now you’ve got to consider wireless or no wireless? Mobile or stationary? Will the product work at home or at the office and why does that even matter? It’s complicated. Technology just isn’t this anymore:
Many a/v professionals and end users want a bada-bing bada-boom sale. I get it. Professionals want to point out the product with the coolest bells and whistles and send customers home to easy set-up. And you want them to return to you for their next purchase. End users often want it that way too and I do hate to rain on the parade, but I brought my umbrella in the form of a reality check anyway:
The complexities of advanced technology have changed consumer needs forever. The harder technology gets, the more training end users need.
Many A/V professionals want to give directions, not engage in conversation. To be an expert, not a help. This won’t cut it the more A/V and IT lines blur. A few months ago, I attended the North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA) Outlook for IT event and one of the key trends heavily discussed was training. More and more, whole business will begin training sessions for the technology implemented into their day-to-day. The purchasing experience isn’t simply based on picking the prettiest color or the thing with the rebate. Every smart technology decision starts with a conversation. Quick exchanges lead to unsatisfactory results oftentimes. Sure, the customer likes to get in and get out but what happens when they get home? What happens when an entire office experiences growing pains from their new equipment and because you failed to create a consultative environment for them, they chalk it up as wasted money and never call you again. You’ve lost your credibility as a professional. You lost a good bit of positive word-of-mouth (yes, it still counts) and new business. Can’t you just SEE the dollar signs crumbling into dust?
We get too caught up in wanting to give directions, not engage in conversation. To be the expert, not a help. We all must understand that embracing new, complex technology involves embracing a new approach to customer interaction. So no, I don’t think “A/V Forward” is where A/V professionals are right now, but I certainly hope it’s a reflection of where we’ll be.
We’ll see when I get to Vegas. Infocomm 2014, here I come!