Don’t let mediocrity be the norm when choosing an AV provider

Complacency and mediocrity are often the expectation when dealing with audio/visual providers. The prevailing assumption is that AV professionals are grumpy and won’t go out of their way to be customer-centric, and that’s just how it is.

“That mindset makes feedback from microphones, delays because a tech can’t get the laptop to produce an image on the screen, or poor customer service typical or acceptable, and that doesn’t need to be the case,” says Matt Radicelli, founder and CEO of Rock The House Audio Visual.

Smart Business spoke with Radicelli about what to look for when choosing an AV provider.

What is it that separates the better AV providers from their competition?
A good AV team listens to the customer’s needs to determine the best approach and build an AV solution that suits that need. A quality AV provider wouldn’t shoehorn a client into a standard package just to make a sale.
The better AV providers are customer-centric.

They respond quickly to inquiries because they know it can be frustrating to wait, especially when time is short.

Follow up should be prompt and the company should feel satisfied that all questions were answered. Too often it’s the case that once a provider has the relevant information needed and delivers a quote, the client is no longer at the top of their list.

A customer-centric company will turn a quote around in less than 24 hours and politely follow up to see what else is needed.

Knowledgeable, approachable staff will go above and beyond to make sure an event goes off without issues, ensuring the equipment functions appropriately with standbys ready in the event that it doesn’t. Much of the troubleshooting is done through tech-checks well before an event starts to safeguard against disruptions.

What questions should companies ask as they research AV providers?
The first question companies should ask their provider is who they will be working with — who is their point of contact with the provider? It’s always best if there is a single point of contact throughout the process.

Ask about backup scenarios to all the ‘what ifs’ that could happen to disrupt the event. Some AV providers have an on-call technician who is on the road and available every day of the week. That ensures most failures can be solved quickly.

Find out about the provider’s quality assurance program. What can the host company expect if there is a disruption that’s solely the responsibility of the AV provider? It’s good to know how the company will make things right if they make a mistake. Also, ask if the deposits or retainers are refundable if the event has to be canceled.

Get references from companies that hosted a similar type of event. Some AV providers keep photos and videos of their work for clients to review.

Ask the provider what makes it different from the other providers. What value does it bring beyond setting up and running equipment? Any AV provider can set up speakers. But a standout provider becomes a part of your team. They help their clients make decisions about the best way to get their message out or how to structure an event for the greatest impact.

On what should a company base its post-event review of its chosen AV provider?
It’s important, but often overlooked, for an AV provider to follow through with the client after the event to understand how the client perceived the event, what went well and what could have been better, because the assumption is they will be a client again in the future.

When talking post-event, there are primarily three aspects of an event on which a company should focus: sales, planning and execution. Host companies should ask themselves whether the sales process was enjoyable and stress free; if planning was easy and thorough; if the provider made good on its event plan; if the execution was seamless; and if it was easy to do business with the company.

Companies that have had their events delayed or experienced technical issues during their events should get another vendor. Good AV is invisible. Great AV imparts a message and adds to the dynamic energy of an event. Anything less is unacceptable.

Insights Entertainment Services is brought to you by Rock The House