Business Management

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I knew I was being an ass, raising my voice while quarreling with AT&T, everyone knew. My extended family - down for the holidays, my wife, my 91-year-old mom and various cousins - even my new granddaughter.

For certain, Mr. Peker (yup, that’s the name he gave me) of AT&T U-verse – he really knew – we were negotiating my next Internet agreement and IP telephony.

Am very frustrated, I feel that I have been more loyal to them than they’ve been to me. Subsisted with them for 37 years.

My feeling - If one has a recurring revenue relationship the unwritten agreement is that: the client pays regularly to receive service. More, the client expects that the one providing that service will hold the customer’s best interest as sacrosanct, a religious type commitment, a top character trait that is a monumental sentinel type cornerstone that they will not violate. Ever.

Boy am I stupid.

I’ve been remiss; we have limped, crept, and slithered along accepting glacial performance for far too long. I am probably the only loser you’ll read today that was bleeding great cash for a very lonely and unused fax line from those boneheads.

Back to being an ass.

Several things pushed my buttons, we were upgrading some streaming gear in the media stack, and content was way too “sticky” the service sucked. We dug out our antiquated AT&T agreement and was shocked with the $117 bucks a month we are shelling out for the two IP telephone lines and that lame speed.

To be fair, we're seduced (several years ago) with the initial 12 months @ $59 per – but that had run its course, so using their license to rape wallets, they took full advantage.

Am pretty sure each reading this has experienced a similar excursion and story.

It is very obvious that those in the pay television, telephony, and Internet supply business place a larger value on new subscribers then the ones they already have. A lesson for us all.

Been that way for decades.

Thus, all the great incentives to switch, basically telling their existing (and loyal) customers that we are their endowed indentured right, enslaved, splayed out spread eagle – tied to the stake - free for them to do as they wish.

My story ends with me ordering from the Spectrum guys and firing AT&T knowing that in a year or so, I’ll want to write this same kind of crap about Spectrum.

The conversation did not go well, Mr. Peker, with some title that has the term “loyalty specialist” embedded within had no justification. He did not really enjoy me asking why he did not have the authority to do the right thing BUT was given the ability to refuse to pass me on to someone who did.

That script that he was reeking from was lame, especially when asked how he expected me to continue paying 65% more than the offer from their competitor.

Did he say they had better service (they don’t) … and yup he dry-fired with that one.

Did he say they really, R E A L L Y, wanted to keep my business? Yup, but did have the authority to offer any tangible alternatives. One could easily tell that even he knew how senselessly hollow the offer sounded.

Also, saying, that they have a really responsive web site (they don’t – and if they really have that great service, why would I ever need it?), that they respond quicker to problems, that they have great “up” time percentages bla, bla, bla …. I asked if he had been a volunteer brain donor last week.

I feel betrayed.

One thing about our industry is that we have deep and lasting relationships, I met CEDIA Lifetime Achievement recipient Bill Skaer around 1985, been a great friend for over 3 decades, he penned a few words about this too:

(That's Bill stealing on of my ties at CEDIA a few years back)

“The cost of acquiring new clients is very high. Why not own the ones you already have? Treat them like you really appreciate their business. As a custom integrator for 35 years, we treated our clients fairly and with respect and they in turn, were just as loyal to us for decades.

Most of your competitors have a hit and run mentality, be different, treat them all with respect and like they are important to you. Many of my clients started out as a simple service calls and over the years turned into million-dollar accounts because we treated like they were just that, million dollar accounts, from day one. I always told my business partner and our guys, that we never knew who might know our next huge client… by treating them all the same we turned many simple jobs into massive projects.

The great thing about our business is that there is always another service and another product to sell our clients as long as we take care of our clients better than we would treat our friends.

Your competitors will make it easy for you to succeed by not showing their clients love and respect.”

A few observations, first please don’t let the above scenario happen to you.

Next is to make sure that each member of your crew has the authority to do the right thing, this means that you need to train, educate, and trust each one on all the disciplines, possible challenges, and opportunities they may come across.

Reading that though, one could make a decent argument that there are way too many variables involved, (and you’d be right).

So, what is one to do?

If you are sending a new technician out into a client environment by themselves, you know that he (or she) will be presented at many points with change order openings, installation miss-fires and at some point, a challenge that things are not as expected.

These scenarios come up all the time, so train and equip your on-site guys to have immediate access via, phone and or text to those who have the authority to respond right now.

As Bill Skaer has so eloquently pointed out this current client is one rare and unique asset. Smart integrators will discipline themselves and commit to the techs that they will respond back to them in less than 5 minutes, and then follow through.

Ever purposely been an ass? Thoughts?

At WELD2, we specialize in building relationships that ensure you have a regular flow of profitable jobs from existing clients. Drop us a line now to discover what other integrators around the country already know; it works!

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