Believe it or not, many consumers are actually terrified of purchasing professionally installed entertainment systems, or at least a little intimidated by technology. The simple reason for this is that they are afraid that they are going to make a huge investment, and then not be able to turn on their TV. As a Professional Integrator, it is vital to recognize this and understand that system control should be a primary focus in the initial meeting with the prospective client. Make a point in the initial meeting with every new, prospective client to discuss the user interface. Assure them during the meeting that no matter how complex or broad the scope of the system may become, you promise it will be easy for ANY member of the family to navigate and control the system you design for them. Equally important is the completion of the project; making the sure the customer is very comfortable with the operation of their new system.
A common request from consumers currently is using their mobile devices for control. After all, tablets and smartphones are incredibly popular devices that they are certainly not intimidated by. In fact, from financial institutions to newspapers, consumers are increasingly looking for access to every aspect of their lives on their mobile devices through apps, especially on Apple® products like the iPod touch®, iPhone®, and iPad®. It’s no surprise that control of their home entertainment systems is also available on these devices.
Professional Integrators can and should offer their customers access to their systems on these devices as a complement to the main control system, as they provide convenient remote access to their electronic environment from virtually anywhere in the world. Users can check in on their security systems when on vacation, set the temperature at home to the perfect setting before their arrival, or turn off the lights if they left them on. It’s a powerful combination of technologies and offers a cool added convenience benefit for consumers.
Where Professional Integrators should be careful, however, is using a tablet or smartphone as the exclusive, primary control device. The reason for this is that these devices simply aren’t as practical as dedicated controllers. With the ability to use them to play games, read books, listen to music, and a whole lot more, it is hard to count on the devices being in their intended room to control the media when it is required. Another issue is that many of them rely on Wi-Fi. So if the network goes down, control over the system does also. And without hard buttons for tactile control, it simply doesn’t offer the comfortable navigation of a professional control device.
So don’t just sell a tablet as the only control element, as it may ultimately leave the customer frustrated. If your customer insists on using a tablet or smartphone as the primary controller, make sure they also have a dedicated remote to enhance the experience. Dedicated controllers provide instant connectivity and hard buttons for tactile control, eliminating the need for swipes or switching between applications on devices to perform basic control functions.
A dedicated control device should be included in every installation to ensure a positive user experience and a satisfied customer. Remember, your business relies on referrals and word of mouth. Nothing is more vital to your success than a happy client who loves their system, and nothing as potentially devastating as a frustrated one. At the end of the project, the primary element your customer will judge all your hard work on is how easy the system is to operate. So make sure they love everything about the user experience (not just that how they can turn the system on with their phone).