Training the Client on Their Big New System in 3 Simple Steps

Mar 06, 2018

It's an age-old problem: You're wrapping up a job, the punch list is almost done, and you want to demonstrate to your high-end client their new, fabulous system. But even if it's simple to use, you're nearly sure (given past experiences) that end-user retention is going to be an issue.

To be fair: Most people aren't integrators, and most people (you included) are insanely busy and constantly bombarded with all manner of info and stimuli.

So how do you make the system training stick when you're demonstrating that new, beautiful, whole-home integration to the client?

For starters, don't do it all at once.

Bill Gerber of Gerber Technology Solutions offers the following:

First and foremost, the system you are installing should be easy-to-use, so any training should be 15-30 minutes for the average user and 30-45 for a super user. If the system is complicated to operate, hopefully this was at the request of the client — and in those cases, they will give you the time to sit down and get trained on the system.

What I do for training usually comes in three steps.

Step 1. As the client is moving in and your punch list is perhaps 95% complete, give the client a five-minute “survival” training. This covers turning the system on, off, and daily basic use. Don’t get into details at this point — they won't remember them. (By the way, when I say “client,” I actually mean “clients:” I gather as many people in the home or office who are available at that time and willing to give me the five minutes. Most of the time, it’s one person, the "technical head of the house.”) I always finish by saying, "Play around with the system, you can't break it, and make a list of questions for my return in a couple of weeks" — and I always make sure to hide the components’ remotes so they really CAN’T break it.

Step 2. Two-to-four weeks after the clients have moved in and used the system, I return to complete the last 5% of the punch list and whatever changes the client requested. I ask the client to have some time set aside at the end of the day for training. I gather everyone who will use the system and train them for 15-30 minutes in a "hands on" training session. I don't recommend PowerPoints or walking them through a printed manual. It should be person-to-person, hands-on training — the end-user should be handling the remote or tablet. They have had time to use the system and formulate their questions and/or problems and you can show them the correct way to operate the system. This will be retained MUCH better as they have struggled through it and then are shown how to do it. They don't want to struggle again so they will pay attention. (I deliver the final invoice at the completion of Step 2.)

I like to provide a “white glove” custom feeling end experience to each client, even though what I’m providing is fairly standardized.

Step 3. One or two weeks after Step 2, I’m back for another face-to-face with the client.
This should be 10 to 15 minutes — tops. (Sometimes it’s great to have the salesperson complete this visit if they have enough technical savvy to speak competently about the installation.) This visit is to deliver a standard or customized instruction manual for the clients’ system. I use a standard long version that has all the information in it and a shorter "Cheat Sheet"-style custom version that quickly outlines the specifics of their individual system. At this point, I answer any other questions the client may have — and at the end of the visit collect the final payment for the installation.

I like to provide a “white glove” custom feeling end experience to each client, even though what I’m providing is fairly standardized.


Step 1.

  • “This is how you turn the TV on and Off.”
  • “Let’s get you logged in to your Pandora account.”
  • “This is how you turn your music on and off.”
  • “Here’s how the keypads are programmed for the lights and shades.” (Don’t demo every function on every keypad here — stick to one.)
  • Don't go over climate controls, cameras, or anything else that isn't used daily unless they ask.

Step 2.

  • Review the TV operation in more detail.
  • Review the music systems in more detail.
  • Show party modes, scenes, and show the client how to customize settings.
  • Review climate controls, cameras, gates, and other non-day-to-day items (this should be a high level overview and not detailed — unless they ask for detail. You will, of course, provide them with a full manual, too.)

Step 3.
  • Answer any questions the client may have.
  • Review the documentation you are providing. Let the client know about FAQs that might exist on YouTube or elsewhere.
  • Accept that final payment for a job well done.
Have your own input on this? Feel free to comment below. We'd love to hear from you.



CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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