The experience, we talk about it, we even place the word “exceptional” in front of it. As someone who has been among the commercial integration space dealing mostly with corporate and education, I know for sure that two things are certain – no two clients are the same and no two client’s needs are exactly the same as well.

Jeremy Caldera, CEO at IAS Technology and Chair of the InfoComm CTS Certification Steering Committee, stated in his blog The User Experience Is More Valuable Than the Technology how the user experience is all encompassing and different for everyone, and user experience (UX) is about how a person feels when they use a technology system that “we the integrators have installed, but it’s not just in the usability itself.”

He continues, “For so many years the audiovisual industry has focused on the technology, however just how does this particular piece of gear make things easier for our customers?  How can we simplify our customers’ experience, along with keeping them loyal and coming back for more.”

The experience in any aspect of technology and business must be pleasing to the person who we refer to as the end user. User, user experience. What many have to realize in any step along the way – sales, design, project management and more – is that there is someone at the tail end of the project expecting the best experience in terms of the scenario that best fits their requirements and overall needs. No attempt at satisfying the customer can even begin without a comprehensive needs assessment.

Jeremy goes on to say, “The user experience is commonly confused with the user interface, or touch panel/control pad, the parts of the room that control the equipment.  The most common mistake is made when integrators attempt to simplify their touch panels or add new cool technology to enhance the user experience.  While these things will help deliver on the generally accepted belief that all systems should be easy to use, they will not always make an experience great.  The overall experience is about standardization, ease of use, uptime, training, and the belief by the user that the systems will always work.”

While many seek to achieve standardization, two factors here are a given in any integration – focus on uptime and proper training. Ease of use is partially in the eye of the end user, however, the integrator must strive to tailor the system to that particular client – as it’s been pointed out how no two clients are the same. One should never assume an end user’s understanding, period.

It appears that you still hear the stories of customers who are not overall ecstatic with the outcome of their system installations. This is not a blanket statement by any means, as there are those out there who do focus on quality in every way. Should integrators, however, be striving to provide an extraordinary outcome for all of their clients?

Maybe. If we preach the exceptional experience in this industry as has been customary over the last several years, maybe it should be carried out to be an extraordinary experience. When you look up exceptional, there’s extraordinary as a top synonym.

OK hold on. So integrators should go out of their way to be exceptional, extraordinary and even remarkable? For anyone who says maybe this is a little out there, I’ll bet my bottom dollar that the end user is expecting exactly this. The question is, can the integrator always provide it?

Well, that’s where certain variables come into play. I have always gone on record to state that there has to be a certain interactivity and, in the true sense of the word, collaboration between the integrator and the client. Both sides must look to work together to achieve “the goal” of a proper overall solution for the situation. The integrator can dot all of the i’s and cross the t’s, however, the client must be a key player in the equation.  Believe it or not though, the onus does end up falling on the integrator there as well to make sure this interactive collaboration is properly achieved.

Now that the onus has fully fallen on the integrator (with the manufacturer coming through on all ends as well), what’s the goal? An exceptional, extraordinary experience?

Let’s reel it back a bit here and agree that while striving to make it exceptional, it’s truly about the user experience, and if delivered in all the best ways possible, expect that thank you from the client – which then nine times out of ten hopefully becomes the most desired result, a long-standing customer considering you as that “trusted” source.

Me at Barco

With over 20 years in audio visual integration and IT/computer sales and consulting, Corey Moss is the owner of Convergent AV. Corey writes for the publication and hosts/produces podcasts – The AV Life, The Final (AV) Word and The Show Corner. He has written for numerous industry publications about AV, IT, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), cloud and software, IoT, cybersecurity and more. He has also conducted interviews with AV and IT executives and global influencers.