05-06-2014 09:10 PM
...when it comes to mobility.
This time last year I was in the process of preparing for the installation of ten customer test sites with the potential for much more. The customer's intention was to determine if adding a guest Wi-Fi network added any value to his business. Although the customer had simple requirements, we left no stone unturned. Thankfully all network deployments went well and the customer had no complaints - except one. With the deployment of a guest Wi-Fi network the customer did not see any increase in sales and did not want to pursue an enterprise-wide deployment. Our team put in a great deal of work and had very little to show for the effort. I was disgusted, but I later learned that I should have seen this coming.
Now fast forward to the fall of last year. I am a first time father with a steep learning curve. Up until this point I was scared to hold another parent's baby. Now my wife and I had one of our own. There is no training for waking up in the middle of the night to the screams of a newborn. You cannot predict how you will react when your baby poops in your hand. (My child literally pooped in my hand.) And for the first couple of months reading our child's cues seemed impossible. But like most parents, my wife and I want the best for our child and are determined to figure it out.
Somewhere during this early stage of fatherhood it hit me. When it comes to mobility, customers are just like infants. Infants are new to this world and are learning along the way. Many of our customers are new to mobility and have no idea what they really want. Many of our customers surprise us with requirements and requests that seem harmless to them. But to us, it is the equivalent of pooping in our hands. Many customers are not going to just tell us that they want a mobility solution either. We have to read their cues (i.e. "I want a tablet in the hands of all of my employees."). During most customer discussions making sense of the seemingly harmless statements and reading the cues are what shape a customer's mobility needs. If you are determined to deploy not just the right wireless network but the right mobility service, you put yourself in the position to provide your customer with the right solution. That is not what I did a year ago. Because I did not read the cues, our customer did not achieve their goal (generate more sales).
The point of this post is not to insult customers in any way. Because just as there are parallels between infants and mobility customers, there are parallels between parents and mobility professionals. This post attempts to illustrate how we as mobility professionals should approach customer engagements. Although we do not have to love our customers as they are our children, we must have a passion to get mobility right. That even includes telling a customer that based on what you want to accomplish, a wireless solution is not right for your enterprise (as in the example above). You, Mr. Customer, require a mobility solution. From that passion to get mobility right should come the patience required to listen to customer requirements, read their cues, calmly guide them through all viable options, and develop a cohesive solution that is right for them. If mobility professionals take this approach with customers, I am confident that there will be fewer disappointed customers and fewer disgusted mobility professionals.