Our new journey through quarantine, social distancing, and spending more (way more) time with our families is forcing us to redefine what it means to deliver home technology experiences in an age where clients may not want outsiders physically in their homes. Our company (I run a technology integration business called Livewire in Richmond, VA) has been deemed “essential” by the federal government because we enable our clients to work remotely, service security systems and are part of the construction industry. We’ve decided to leverage our classification by pivoting into new products and services during this unprecedented time.
Many of our clients have discovered for themselves what we’ve been telling them for years. If their technology foundation isn’t solid, then everything else suffers. To that end, we’re looking at new stay-at-home and “touchless sale” offerings by focusing on a few key categories:
Managing Home Networks During the Coronavirus Lockdown
The industry maxim “if the network’s not right, nothing’s right,” has never rung truer. After a few days of glitching out during video conference calls or hearing children complain about their e-learning classes not working properly, our service desk began getting deluged with urgent requests from clients to fix their issues. We’ve been offering to remotely access client networks to analyze dead spots or identify hardware in need of an upgrade. Solutions range from a quick chat to scheduling in-person installations.
Each interaction is different, and each client has their own preferences about having our people in their homes. We’re looking at our installation and service offerings as interchangeably virtual or on-site, with the virtual work prefaced by telling the client they may have to put up with some of the tech friction they called us about in order to complete their installation. I’ve witnessed numerous service interactions in recent days where our people are patiently stepping a client through a thorny issue via Zoom or FaceTime.
Hardening Home Security During the Coronavirus Lockdown
Many of our customers have called in asking us to shore up their physical security systems by replacing batteries, adding doors and windows or adding cameras to blind spots around their home’s perimeter.
Today’s video analytics and ability to reduce false alerts make conversations about security upgrades very easy. As with most of our technology solutions, clients tend to run hot and cold when it comes to these upgrades, and we’ll usually wait to let them bring it up first. We deal with a wide spectrum of clients, ranging from macho alpha dogs telling us their security system is by Smith & Wesson to fearful homeowners who want their system to address any possible intrusion. We keep the conversation about the client and try to do much more listening than talking.
Providing Remote Sales and Service of Smart Home Systems
We’re meeting our clients where they want to be met. If they want an on-site visit, we’ll go on-site. If they want us to do a virtual consultation, that’s fine too. Our message is the same throughout: “We’re here to help, and we appreciate your business.”
When it comes to scheduling service, we’re offering a seamless online booking calendar and payment solution. They don’t even need to pick up the phone. In many ways the coronavirus quarantine is forcing businesses like ours to sharpen their online tools and ability to serve customers across myriad channels. We also offer clients the ability to text us or chat through the Website. Our hope is that we’re able to offer the right solutions at the right time while becoming ubiquitous.
Ongoing 24/7 Remote Support of Smart Home Systems
Our remote support business is up over 100-percent since the beginning of March. If our customers didn’t previously see the value in having us troubleshoot and fix their systems remotely, they sure do now (full disclosure: I’m a co-founder of remote service provider Parasol).
Many of our clients who previously decided against having us keep an eye on their systems have changed their mind as the network has evolved from something which needed to work only after hours and on weekends to a system every bit as important as HVAC.
We decided to offer 90 days free remote technical support to our clients during the COVID-19 crisis as a goodwill gesture to avoid coming across as tone deaf. The last thing clients want right now is someone selling something to them.
Online Meeting Best Practices
We’ve been fielding a lot of questions around best practices for online meetings. We created a survival guide based on market data recently published by renowned marketing expert Marcus Sheridan highlighting a few key points to keep in mind:
- Smile… A lot!!!
- Face a light source
- Sit up straight or stand up
- Mandating cameras on during virtual sales consultations can increase close rates by 15 percent
- Limit screen sharing during discussions with your prospect
- Ask questions using names (write them down) especially in a group setting
One thing’s for certain: the longer our clients are sitting at home staring at their broken or outdated technology, the bigger the surge will be when we transition out of the COVID-19 stay-at-home routine. Until then, we will continue helping our clients and their families work remotely by constantly trying out new ideas for products and services.