Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Digital Signage Sales 101: What Is True Customer Service?

One July day, many years ago, I crawled up a ladder to change the plastic letters on a reader board at my family’s car stereo store in Rockledge, FL. It was late in July and the aluminum ladder had been baking in the direct sun for hours. I stepped onto it and grabbed the hot metal rail and so began an hour of pain. 

“Speed Trap Ahead- Cobra Radar Detectors $99,” eventually appeared on both sides of the 4’x8’ reader board. Other businesses admired our changeable, on-premise, outdoor media. But they were not the poor schmuck who had to sort through the box of letters, crawl up the ladder, line them up and then put it all away in the 95º heat.

Thank God some smart person invented LED display technology and adapted it to outdoor messaging and digital display.

Beware still because even with all the resources available, all LED sign manufacturers are not the same. There are many ways to differentiate between them- price, reliability, USA or foreign, technologically advanced, but most importantly is customer service.

What is customer service? It’s everything that’s not a customer disservice. Fundamental to true customer service is what’s found deep in the heart and soul of the company. Many companies preach “the customer is King” but their “castle of promises” is made of sand instead of limestone. The first little wave and they crumble hopelessly. It’s not always good to be “King”.

Is a company doing all they can every day in every way for their customers?  How do they make the customer experience memorable, or is each customer just a fattened steer in a cattle chute? Do you think some companies ever consider the world through their customer’s eyes or do they just sell a commodity LED sign? Then, each night as they lock up they have a group prayer so in the morning not too many angry customers will call. I've seen this before, it’s not pretty.

Everything a Company Does Builds their Legacy

"Every Breath You Take"
Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I'll be watching you!

This song by the English musician Sting summarizes it. Companies are held accountable for everything they say and do. In today’s digital age there truly is no carpet to sweep mistakes under. Accountability comes in the form of a diminished reputation which translates into missed sales. Prices are well known, mistakes are instantly on some group chat, and when a company says “no” instead of “heck yes” a digital black mark is recorded somewhere. 

This means a company has to be proactive with their treatment of customers and try to offer solutions, excellent product, leading-edge technology and do it before the customer asks for it. They have to be committed to making the customer’s life better and easier.

And, oh yes, the best companies enjoy doing this and appear to have fun delivering service to the customer. Make it fun; easy to say, but hard to do for some organizations.

Don’t Sell an LED Sign, Sell an Advertising Solution

The company that made the old reader board with the changeable plastic letters sold a sign.  They probably thought that by selling the steel commodity they were selling an advertising solution and, for that era, they may have been correct.

But now, 2014, so many LED sign choices are available, global choices, many with similar hardware and decent reliability they all begin to morph into a “digital wheat” of sorts – a commodity.

Smart LED sign manufacturers, proactive, customer-service focused LED manufacturers realize that a glowing metal box is not an advertising solution. They live for a day in their customer shoes and inject added value components into their offering that go beyond the hardware alone:
  • Professionally produced content. The customer does not have to waste time and resources making their own messages, slides and animation.
  • On-site service plans that ensure the LED sign is not a recurring drain on resources. Even the offer of this type of service plan speaks to the underlying reliability of what they sell.
  • Remote access of LED sign networks from various electronic platforms.
  • True “bend over backwards” support from initial on-site demos to customized software.
  • Easy to use software that allows the end-user maximum control with minimal learning.
By creating an advertising solution the smart LED sign manufacturer creates a unique niche in the market place and virtually guarantees the end-user that their LED sign will work hard for them and provide a return on investment. Also by offering these advantages the LED sign manufacturer creates a loyal following in the marketplace and carves out a lofty position in the industry.

This is real customer service- provide a solution. Of course you have to do all the other stuff too. Why? Because customers are watching you and they are informed and smart!

Do your homework before establishing a relationship with a LED sign manufacturer. Check them out, call their home office and see how long it takes before speaking to someone “in the know”. Every company tells you who they are, in one way or another. All you have to do is listen.

These comments belong to me, Mike Prongue, and do not reflect the views, opinions, hopes or dreams of anyone else, anywhere else and this includes Vantage LED. I appreciate your constructive opinion which may be sent to me at

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