By Hannah Davies, Inspire AV (CEDIA Member)
We used to find that a fully integrated smart home technology system was like marmite. People either loved it or wanted very little to do with it.
But, with more affordable off-the-shelf alternatives flooding the market, we have seen that people are starting to dabble and expectations are high from DIY-ers looking to Google Home and Amazon Alexa to complete the jobs of a much more sophisticated system.
We feel it is our job as integrators to work with these products but, ultimately, be the professional capable of offering a holistic approach that streamlines all systems and provides a one stop shop method of control, using the likes of Control 4 or Crestron.
How do we do that? At the outset of a relationship with a client, we always speak with them to assess what they really want from a smart home system.
Most of our clients aren’t aware of what we can do for them nor do they fully appreciate the range of elements we can integrate and control. We seek to understand the client, the lifestyle and culture of the individual and family and then tailor our solution to their needs. Some people wish to simply control their lighting and audio but don’t realise that we can lean on technology to make those everyday little things that little bit simpler - set time zones to open blinds, raise lighting levels and pop Radio 2 on before they have even got downstairs to collect the paper. Building awareness for what we can do is very much a part of that early conversation.
Those that already own what we would class as a DIY product are typically seeking a way to ‘supersize’ its capability or functionality. In our view, it’s not necessarily about ‘upselling’ these products already in-situ but simply steering clients in the right direction to integrate or find solutions that achieve the same end goal they are seeking. Sometimes, this can be challenging to force a multi-faceted house to sing from the same hymn sheet, but where there is a will, there is a way!
A bit of humility helps. No-one wants to invite a professional into their home to be told the latest bit of kit they have purchased isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (even if it isn’t!). Instead, it’s about working with what the client wants, offering alternatives where possible but, above all, embracing what’s out there.
We were the first smart home technology company to have an Alexa Skill built. This enables our clients with Amazon Alexas to ask for the latest information on the company, opening times or even call direct from Alexa.
Ultimately, the level of support and assistance we offer is a big differentiator. We can respond to resolve technical issues, as and when required, which the ‘off-the-shelf’ product option simply cannot do. Once it’s purchased, there is very little in help and support for when it may go wrong. In contrast, we provide a remote monitoring service, have a team on standby to deal with client issues on the phone, or can have an engineer pitch up on-site to take a look and fix problems at short notice.
Our customers are not just buying a product and having it installed. They’re buying a professional service. We are integrating a system that complements their lifestyle and one that we care about after the installation is completed. We know our clients, we know their families and we offer support and preventative maintenance to ensure the smooth running of their systems and lives. After 10 years in business, we’re convinced that it’s a winning approach.
About Inspire AV
Established in 2009, Inspire AV has continued to grow into a recognised designer and innovator in smart home technology systems by providing exceptional customer service, completing outstanding projects within budget that deliver beyond their clients’ expectations. More information at www.inspire-av.com.