Choosing an Audiovisual Partner: Six Factors to Consider
Organizations across economic sectors rely on audiovisual technology that enables key business capabilities. From sound masking systems that protect speech privacy in legal and financial firms, to video conferencing systems that facilitate a better method of business communication, audiovisual integration plays a vital role in the modern office workflow.
As audiovisual technology continues to develop, organizations increasingly depend on the expertise of a dedicated audiovisual partner to navigate the complexity of AV integration. This leads to additional challenges: choosing the right audiovisual partner, selecting the right products and understanding service agreements – tasks that can all feel overwhelming.
If your business is ready to benefit from the expertise of a dedicated audiovisual team, we’ve outlined the six most important factors you should consider when selecting a partner to help with your AV needs.
Understands Customer Needs
Audiovisual installations are as diverse as the businesses and organizations that depend on them – from corporations that depend on audiovisual systems for long-distance video conferencing to classrooms that use multimedia education to empower the next generation of students. To provide effective service for clients in every sector and across a range of project types, the best audiovisual partners know to stay focused on what matters most: understanding customer needs and consistently meeting their expectations on that basis.
Organizations across economic sectors face similar challenges when it comes to audiovisual implementation, especially:
- Growing complexity and disparity of AV systems
- Concern over breakdowns, maintenance and the cost of service
- Need for exceptional quality
The best audiovisual integration partners demonstrate a strong willingness to listen, collaborate and establish a shared vision for project outcomes. They work to understand current changes and anticipate future trends in your industry, acting as a long-term technology partner. They know how to ask the right questions and how to build a solution that works for the end user.
Proven Track Record
The ideal technology partner should demonstrate a proven track record of delivering quality work for similar companies within your industry. A partner with a proven track record can provide valuable insights into what technologies your competitors are using and what steps you should take to keep abreast or establish a competitive advantage. Do your due diligence by checking out the website, LinkedIn accounts and social profiles for any audiovisual company you’re planning to do business with. Look for evidence of past success, such as:
- Testimonials –Audiovisual companies frequently request testimonials from their project partners so they can share them with prospective clients in the future. You can also check out business review websites and social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) for customer testimonials.
- Case Studies –A case study offers insight into how an audiovisual integrator manages projects and delivers value to their customers. In addition to publishing case studies, the best audiovisual companies leverage their social media presence to provide thought leadership and to educate their customers. Look for newly released white papers and blog posts along with activity on LinkedIn and other social channels.
- List of Current Partners – The best audiovisual companies stay committed to their clients past the installation date – they understand how to meet the ongoing service and maintenance needs of their customers. Audiovisual integrator’s should demonstrate that they have successfully maintained customer relationships past the initial installation.
- References – The best way to verify the track record of an audiovisual integration company is to ask for references. A five-minute conversation with one of their existing or past clients can give you an excellent idea of what it’s like to work with them.
You wouldn’t visit a doctor without a medical degree or hire a plumber who never went to trade school
– so why would you hire an audiovisual integration company without the proper industry-specific certification?
Audiovisual technologies are complex, and it takes a certified professional to understand industry specifications and how to get products from different manufacturers working together in a truly integrated system.
AVIXA is the leading provider of training and certification programs for audiovisual integration
specialists operating in North America. The organization offers a designation called Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) that covers the design, operation and servicing of audiovisual solutions along with the necessary project management skills needed to deliver solutions on-time and on-budget.
Individuals who complete the CTS training program and successfully pass the examination have demonstrated their knowledge and capabilities in:
- Creating AV solutions – gathering customer information, elucidating user needs and project requirements, conducting job site and environmental assessment, establishing project scope and designing a solution that matches the space, the purpose and user needs.
- Implementing AV solutions – Professional audiovisual implementation accounts for project needs and industry specifications. Monitors are mounted based on seating height; speakers are positioned based on acoustic distribution and systems are connected to drive end-user accessibility.
- Servicing AV solutions – maintenance, troubleshooting and repair of AV systems
Have you heard of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)? The ISO publishes standards for everything from medical device quality systems to IT service management, all with the goal of promoting best practices through standardization. AVIXA is the ISO of audiovisual: it maintains the standard for quality work and awards the CTS certification to professionals with the necessary skills to meet that standard.
When hiring an AV integrator, look for a partner that can act as a “one-stop shop”, providing full end-to end service from design to build and through to servicing and maintaining your newly installed AV infrastructure.
A true end-to-end audiovisual solution includes:
- Site and environmental survey and capturing user needs
- Audiovisual solution design
- Product/component sourcing and procurement
- System installation and integration
- Ongoing service, including troubleshooting support, maintenance and repairs
Hiring a single company or team to manage all your audiovisual needs creates a single point of contact and accountability for all issues related to audiovisual. This produces three key benefits:
- Streamlined problem resolution – whether you’re experiencing connectivity issues, you need a monitor replaced, or you’re not sure what the problem is, you call the same phone number to get the help you need.
- Service continuity – service continuity is extremely important for addressing your long-term technology needs. A reliable AV partner is familiar with your facility and the details of your audiovisual installation along with your service and maintenance history, resulting in faster resolution times for maintenance issues.
- Lower costs – when your audiovisual integration company also manages your service and maintenance, you’ll benefit from reduced long-term maintenance costs and enhanced system availability.
The ideal AV integrator acts as a long-term technology partner, capable of installing and maintaining the latest tech for your facility and helping you implement changes or features as required.
One of the major challenges associated with audiovisual design and installation is the variance and uniqueness of project environments. Every job site has different characteristics in terms of acoustics, lighting, seating, and other features. Unique customer requirements that often differ significantly with each new project create an additional layer of complexity.
Professional AV Integrators don’t use pre-configured or cookie cutter designs. They put in the work to fully customize each project to specifications developed with the customer.
The design process for your audiovisual implementation should include detailed information gathering, a complete site survey and a comprehensive project scope. You should receive a Program Report along the way that details the direction of your design before a formal proposal is created. This demonstrates that your AV integrator is customizing a solution based on your needs rather than trying to sell you on a pre-configured package with generic pricing.
Reliable Service Partner
Leading AV integrators anticipate the service needs of their customer partners by offering cost competitive service packages that include periodic preventative maintenance and low-cost service hours that can be applied to routine or emergency service activities.
Audiovisual companies can also implement remote cloud access to your system, simplifying the troubleshooting process for customer issues and reducing overall resolution time for AV issues.
A reliable service partner keeps working with you beyond the initial AV installation to maximize AV system availability, up-time and performance. The best partners perform regular, proactive maintenance that minimizes service interruptions and minimizes reactive service requests.
Why Hillman AV?
Hillman AV provides exceptional audiovisual integration and related services, acting as a long-term technology partner to ensure its customers receive the maximum benefits from their AV implementation. With partners that include Regina Catholic Schools, the Saskatchewan Science Centre and the MacKenzie Art Gallery to name a few, Hillman AV has demonstrated its commitment to exceptional audiovisual design, integration and service across a range of project types.
Working with our team of Certified Technology Specialists, clients of Hillman AV can expect a customized end-to-end AV solution that meets their needs and a long-term technology partnership that can help with future upgrades, service and maintenance.
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