Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Installation" shouldn't be a dirty word

I was reading an article at Flooring the Consumer (which is a clever pun since the blog is actually about the flooring industry), and was struck by how similar author C.B. Whittemore's industry can be to our own sometimes. She recounts a presentation given by Tom Jennings about flooring installation, and how it has become the "dirty word" of the industry. Apparently, there have been enough shoddy jobs and dissatisfied customers (complaints cost the average flooring store 2-4% of annual revenues!) that people inside the industry have come to associate installation as the problem phase of a flooring sale.

As much as I might complain about long sales cycles and complex demonstrations and pilots that plague the software portion of a digital signage project, I'd have to agree that compared to actually getting a network of screens or kiosks installed, everything else is a breeze. Software, hardware and content lend themselves well to centralized oversight and quality control. Installations, on the other hand, necessarily require remote staff, traveling, physical infrastructure and hard labor. Unless you have an internal team that you plan to send out to each and every site you install, you'll probably be outsourcing that phase to a 3rd party company -- essentially letting them represent you in your customer's venues. With that in mind, Jennings's tips seem quite apt:
  • Don't ever become complacent with your service experience. Know that
    you will always receive the results that you are willing to accept.
  • "Inspect what you expect." Have high standards.
  • To be in control, take control. Quality is never an accident: it is
    planned for.
  • Great companies never expect their staff members to self
  • Sales is a relay race. It starts with the salesperson, then moves on to
    measurement and installation. Everyone [i.e., each collective
    fingerprint] plays a role in ensuring that the exchange or hand off
    takes place smoothly. If one hand off fails, the whole experience breaks
  • First impressions leave lasting images.
  • Look sharp. Feel sharp.
  • Act and look like you know what you're doing.
  • Installers should always leave a business card upon completion. It makes
    them accountable.
  • Be sure to do a walk-through with the customer.
  • Address any problems on site: have a plan, explain full details, time
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