By Carolyn Heinze On May 22, 2014

An excerpt from the full article

The customer may not always be right, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve stellar service. In fact, great service is not a question of whether the client is entitled to it, nor is it just a bonus—a nice thing to offer. It’s a necessity, both for AV firms facing the ongoing and ever-increasing commoditization of technology and the shift from hardware to software (and thus, lower margins), and for the people who are using this stuff. As technology grows evermore sophisticated, your customers aren’t just your customers; they’re your partners, and it’s through service that you can help them to grow—and you to succeed as well.

But in order for you to provide stellar service to your partners/customers, you need to receive the same thing from your partners/suppliers. Training, consultation, easily digestible resource materials, and an efficient way of bringing all of the different aspects of your business together are some of the things that you require in order to meet your customers’ needs. Here’s how several companies are striving to offer you stellar service so that you may do the same on the frontlines.

Your Business in One View

In order to provide stellar service, you have to have your stuff together— and everyone knows that’s easier said than done. Aligning the massive amounts of information that professionals compile both on the front end and in the back office is a challenge that every business in every sector struggles with daily, and Solutions 360, a software solutions provider based in Newmarket, ON , Canada, is specifically helping AV integrators struggle a little less.

Offering what Solutions 360 calls “One View of the Business,” the Q360 platform is an integrated suite designed to address the different aspects of an integration firm’s business functions: sales, proposals, service and dispatch, invoicing, and accounting. This, according to the developer, provides immediate access to reporting and related information, boosting efficiencies in project management and business processes and thus, profitability.

John Graham, Solutions 360

John Graham, executive vice president at Solutions 360, noted that the ideal AV integrator candidate for this solution is one that is either in growth mode or plans to be, and has determined that they need the structure and processes to support that growth. Generally, companies at this stage tend to have anywhere from 20 to 50 employees, although the software can support larger organizations boasting several hundred employees; Graham often meets new clients when they are in the 50 to 300 employee range.

“The greatest benefit we offer an integration company isn’t really a feature or function, but a new mode of operating,” he said, because his company’s approach is to focus on its clients’ business goals, and where its clients’ organizations are headed. “It’s how that feature set is deployed that makes the biggest impact on their business. We are providing one system, one database, with the full operations and accounting functions as part of the same fabric of the software, so our clients have complete visibility into every facet of their business.” The result: users can make better decisions because they are up to speed, in real time, about what’s really going on in their integration firm.

It’s when integrators are equipped with this information that they are better positioned to provide the best service possible to their clients, Graham said. “Having a 360 view of their experience with your company helps everyone make better decisions that lead to both increases in customer satisfaction and profitability by customer,” he said. “If you’re making a sales call for a new product line, wouldn’t it be beneficial to know what’s happening with their service issues? Or perhaps they are in arrears on their account. Armed with this information, you are not only informed; you come across as being professional and you can offer real help to your customer. You become a valued partner, creating stickiness to that client.”

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