The best wireless audio installations are the ones where the sound is great, the work was performed on schedule, the bill was paid, and the client was happy.
Not every job ends like that.
In some cases, the work and audio are great, but the client isn’t happy. (This scenario generally affects the bill, as well.)
Often this happens because the client had unreasonable expectations. They’ll make assumptions about how you will work or what they will receive, even if those details were never discussed. This a problem that everyone working in service-based businesses has to deal with.
Often clients aren’t happy because they’ve made assumptions about your service that aren’t accurate.
In wireless audio, managing expectations is especially critical. Your customers don’t understand the technology like you understand it. They likely have assumptions of how it works that you’ll have to correct. You’ll find yourself educating your customers on the same topics over and over, like signal strength, not adjusting the RF settings on devices, and how not to cause interference.
Unfortunately, clients’ expectations are actually your fault. As the installer, it’s your job to educate the customer so they are comfortable with what they’re buying. If you are honest and transparent, the system your client receives will be exactly what they expect.
Here are some ways you can manage your clients’ expectations so everyone is pleased with your service.
Don’t greenlight everything the client requests
At some point you’ll come across a client who will make silly or outrageous requests. They want to be able to use their wireless microphones in the parking lot, on the other side of the building, and everywhere else all the time. They’ll insist that you put receivers in a remote location for aesthetic reasons, without taking on the added expense of a distributed antenna dystem or other RF distribution design and integration. Or they might demand you make their installation a priority over another client.
Just because a client requests something doesn’t mean you’re obligated to comply. Don’t be afraid to push back if you think the client is making a poor decision. An installation with poor sound quality will affect your reputation, even if the customer made specific requests that inhibit its performance. The audience won’t know that the customer was difficult, but they will know who installed the shoddy system.
Obviously, you’ll want to be tactical with any conversation where you push back against the client. Encourage the client to recognize your expertise. Explain how the little details won’t matter to anyone if the wireless audio doesn’t sound clear and crisp.
If your clients make demands about scheduling or price that you aren’t willing to satisfy, approach that conversation as one business owner to another. Explain that you have commitments to other customers as well as your team (in the form of payroll) that you can’t risk.
Be clear about your scope of service
When you set up the initial contract, you need to be absolutely clear about where your service begins and where it ends. If you don’t set these boundaries, you are likely to deal with a client who expects to receive more than you expect to provide.
There are plenty of cases where clients expect more ongoing support after the installation than you built into the job’s price. They try to get you to come back to the site to fix something they broke, make a change (even though they approved the initial plan), or receive additional training.
You don’t want to abandon your customers because that would be poor customer service, but you can’t run around working for free. There are two ways to make sure you get paid for this type of tacked-on-at-the-end work.
- Build it into your initial price. Some wireless audio installers will price a job comfortably and then add 10-20% on top for eventualities.
- Set an hourly rate for any work outside the service contract. Make sure this number is mentioned in the contract so you can point to it if the customer disputes the fee.
Like most businesses, you have more installations coming up. So when a past client makes a request, you don’t always have time to drop what you’re doing and head back. Make it clear that any additional work that isn’t covered by the service contract will have to be scheduled as if it’s a new job.
Under promise and over deliver
This is an old adage that applies to a lot of things (in life, school, work, relationships, etc.), but many businesses fail to follow it.
Meeting your obligations is a critical part of creating a good customer experience. If you make a promise and fail to deliver, you’ll disappoint your customer.
A Dutch study in Science Daily discovered that broken promises make us want to punish the promise breaker. If your customers perceive you as someone who can’t meet the obligations you set, they’ll make the rest of the relationship more difficult in order to exact payment for the perceived slight.
Broken promises create situations like this: “Since the wireless system doesn’t have the range you promised, you need to provide an additional microphone and receiver so we can use it in the lobby.” Now you have to eat the cost of an additional mic.
Your customers want consistency. Once you start under delivering, you lose trust with the customer. Now they’re worried about what else you aren’t delivering as advertised. This is especially concerning in wireless audio because the concepts are so mystical to your customers. They aren’t exactly sure what you’re doing, so from their point of view there are plenty of places they could be screwed.
Installation time is where most broken promises occur. You promise it will be done in a week, but an emergency comes up and now you’re a couple days behind. Or you promise you’ll be on site for the next four days, but circumstance calls you away for a day and the customer feels ignored.
It’s smart to rein in your promises so you don’t risk disappointing your customer. For example, you might think a venue’s lighting rig won’t cause interference. To be safe, include a relay device into your plan to compensate just in case. If you end up not needing the relay, then from the customer’s perspective you just saved them money, rather than costing them more. Instead of under delivering, you just over delivered.
Make it user friendly and provide training
Your clients expect to be able to use their wireless audio system. Naturally, this is the most important expectation you should meet.
Wireless audio is one of those concepts that can quickly become confusing for inexperienced users. If your clients have trouble using the system you put in place, frequently make mistakes, or break it, your reputation will suffer (even if you deliver exactly what you promise).
Spend some time teaching your clients how to use their new wireless audio system. Teach them what they need to know about using the equipment. Instruct them what not to touch. Most importantly, leave behind some type of document with easy-to-understand instructions for their reference.
If you train your clients properly, you’ll also reduce the amount of time you spend troubleshooting for them over the phone or revisiting the job site to help them with something.
Final thoughts: Strive for clarity above all else
Whenever you begin a project, seek absolute clarity between you and the event organizer or venue owner. Figure out exactly what they are hoping to achieve so you can meet those goals. If you can uncover their goals, you can put together a quality system that meets their expectations.