Over the next few months, we’ll take an inside look at how the NSCA 2020 Excellence in Business award winners have adapted to our constantly changing industry. For its commitment to meeting – and exceeding – lofty client satisfaction goals, AV Solutions was named an NSCA 2020 Excellence in Business award winner in the Customer Experience category.
“Red Status” is a term used by AV Solutions, NSCA’s 2020 Excellence in Business award winner for Customer Experience: It unites all employees around lofty client satisfaction goals.
It’s not that AV Solutions has a client satisfaction problem. By its constantly monitored metrics, the Baton Rouge, LA-based integration firm boasts a 95% client satisfaction rate.
The processes and policies that Founder and President Matt Slack put in place are a big reason for the high satisfaction ratings. They also contribute to a company culture that motivates employees to strive for complete customer satisfaction.
“When we talk about core values, I don’t even have to say anything,” Slack says. “We have a mechanized process that keeps driving everybody’s attention and energy toward a level of excellence.” One example is a daily meeting strategy the company launched after Slack saw Scaling Up author Verne Harnish discuss it at a Business & Leadership Conference (BLC).
Those mechanized processes led to AV Solutions earning a 2020 Excellence in Business award in the Customer Experience category.
Rating Client Satisfaction
There’s no doubt that client satisfaction is a key metric for AV Solutions. The number stems from a weekly client project satisfaction meeting where the team reviews work in progress.
“At the conclusion of the meeting, each team member is asked to rate client happiness based on their experience from the week before,” explains Chief Marketing Officer Matt Preuett. “Negative and positive client experiences are recorded. From those, a total client satisfaction rating is calculated. The current goal is to keep this rating at 95% each week.”
The figure sounds high, but Slack adds that the scoring system is actually skewed toward lower scores to preserve a standard of excellence. The culture at AV Solutions encourages employees to be hyper-sensitive to clients’ needs. “We’ve realized there are a lot of times when our own team members do not feel we’ve reached the necessary level of satisfaction and excellence with our customer that we believe we should deliver,” he says.
Those weekly meetings serve as a platform for raising concerns. Team members rate every client interaction as to whether or not they believe the client was satisfied – and it goes beyond that, Slack says. “Do we feel that the right outcome was achieved? We have a number of clients who are not telling us there’s a problem; however, our team member will point to a failure we may have fixed – but that never should have happened in the first place. That team member will deem the client with a rating of ‘not thrilled.’ ”
What is “Red Status”?
Another process that creates urgency around creating client satisfaction is “Red Status.” Essentially, “any AVS team member at any point can nominate a client to be on ‘Red Status’ if they believe the client is having repeated issues,” Preuett explains. “Once this process begins, there is a documented plan of action involving internal team meetings, on-site meetings, standing weekly check-in calls with client, and interviews with users having issues. Until the issues are resolved, AVS leadership keeps the ‘Red Status’ item on their weekly meeting agenda to keep it a top company priority.”
The “Red Status” process isn’t new. In fact, it dates back to AV Solutions’ early days in the mid-2000s – and, like a lot of effective policies, it started by recognizing something the company wanted to avoid in the future.
“We had a client with an encrypted microphone system,” Slack recalls. “We delivered the entire boardroom solution with 30-plus mics. Ultimately, however, those mics were not doing what they were supposed to do. They were not producing the functionality that we design-tested.”
The manufacturer sent engineers on-site twice, but AV Solutions recognized that the product simply wasn’t going to deliver the experience they demand for the customer. “At our own expense, we offered to replace the entire encrypted microphone system with something else that we knew was tested and would work,” Slack says. “We’ve evolved a lot since then but we learned some lessons from a few situations like that.”
While AV Solutions needs to rely on trusted manufacturers, the company also realizes there are limits. Not all manufacturers have the same customer satisfaction goals. “So we don’t rely on those manufacturers. We don’t rely on their spec sheets to be true. We don’t rely on them to come bail us out,” Slack says. “We built a whole other layer with an evaluation process to make sure we’re investing in the right equipment. We literally bring it in house and test it before we ever sell it. This way we can understand the true capabilities and avoid situations like what occurred in that particular boardroom.”
Another lesson learned: Bringing in a manufacturer engineer for help is a sign that too much time is elapsing. The risk? The customer will check out and their needs aren’t sufficiently met. “That is not an excellent experience,” Slack says.
That realization led to the “Red Status” escalation process. “We bring all of our best minds and talents from different departments into that problem immediately,” Slack explains. “We figure out exactly what’s happened, what went wrong, and then build a plan. Instead of waiting and risking that our first or second fix doesn’t work, we just escalate.”
In essence, “Red Status” is a formalized outcome that results from a formalized, tracked process. Having the processes in place is part of the solution; it’s AV Solutions’ culture of extreme focus on customer satisfaction and maintaining a 95% satisfaction rating that allows the process to be successful.
Learn More: 2020 Excellence in Business Award Winners
Check back as we continue to reveal how the 2020 NSCA Excellence in Business award winners made business changes to adapt to our constantly changing industry. You’ll also read stories from: