Becoming the Best - Customer Service - Chris Shrom Lighting Design

Readers, Roadies, Skeptics and Crew,

I started writing this past summer because I had a green horn lighting tech with me. I wanted to find an outlet to be able to convey ideas and processes that would make his life easier, rather than every day putting my arm around him and telling him everything that he did poorly. Don’t get me wrong, we still had daily talks about what was good, what was bad and what he could do to improve both our lives on the road. He would have been wise to heed the advice that was handed to him. Fast forward to January 3rd, 2014, I still have a relatively green lighting tech, but he learns quickly, and actually made me take a step back when he began to anticipate needs and do things before I asked… that’s customer service! Remarkable!!! I had to write about this immediately.

Amphitheater Audience before a showThe command chain is pretty clear in the touring world. The audience “hires” the artist by buying tickets to the show, the artist hires the tour manager, the tour manager hires the production manager who hires the crew, the crew hires the various vendors who then hires the technicians. During the day, as you interact with people, every new interaction can be looked at as a job interview. People get to meet you, work along side you, and when the show happens they get to experience your product. A customer service mindset says that every person could be a potential client, clients are customers, customers pay the bills. Make the customer happy.

Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you. – Chip Bell, Founder Chip Bell Group

While in college, I spent a lot of time at the Bandit Lites warehouse learning the ropes of the lighting world. I learned a lot of things during my time there, but the thing I picked up on the most was how important the client was to management – these are their customers. They treated every client with such a respect and an almost reverence that it was impossible not to take notice. I picked up on this customer service-like behavior and immediately integrated it into the way I do business.

We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better. – Jeff Bezos, CEO

Roadie Silverware - Fork, Knife, WrenchI remember my time at Chicago’s and Applebees working in the trenches from opening to close. Trenches they were indeed, and when I was serving at Applebees, customer service was EVERYTHING. These were the folks that paid the bills, and for the most part the work that you put in was directly related to the money you got out. You had to anticipate their needs, make sure their drinks were full, be present but not intrusive, make them feel welcome and cared for. The thing I wanted to convey in this post, the secret to being the best in your field, is customer service. To make an impression, to get clients, and to keep them, is not only to be the best at what you do but to go the extra mile pay attention to the details, and notice the little things… even if it means helping the audio guys.

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else. – Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart

Every now and again I take a brief tour where I am not the LD, I am the tech, which is still fun and rewarding (also keeps me humble) but the goal never changes: take care of the client(s). During load in, the goal is to get the rig up and operational as fast as possible so that if the LD has to program, he has ample time to do that. Once the rig is in the air, the work doesn’t stop because there is always something to fix, and while that is going on, the LD may need a focus dummy, or a wide range of other things. ( If you can keep your client’s rig 100% operational all the time, you’re certainly going to make an impression.) Sometimes, the LD can’t get away, so if you really want to blow their mind, offer to grab them a plate from catering and bring their favorite soft drink. It’s not always obvious where there is a customer service opportunity, but if you are actively looking for some way to help a fellow co-worker, you will be actively looking for a way to secure that next gig.

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends. – Walt Disney

Jeremy Camp - We Cry Out AudienceThe show is everything, that’s where the money is made, thats how your day rate is paid. Its why I spend hours out at FOH on my riser behind my desk, most days when I don’t have to – the audience isn’t going to notice 80% of the things I notice, but its the principle behind making sure that their experience is the best that I can provide. Keith Urban would comment at the end of the night something similar to, “There are plenty of other concerts passing through here, I am incredibly grateful that you would be here.” He got it.  I want to provide an experience that makes them talk for months after the show, and when we roll through again, they go out of their way to see us… and hopefully bring their friends, more customers, potential clients. Remember, its all about customer service.

I hope you find this post helpful, don’t forget to “like” the Facebook page if you haven’t already, find me on LinkedINPLS or catch me on twitter. I’ve also added a Fan Photos Page which is full of my favorite twitter photos.


One Comment

  • RIc says:


    Your keen insight is freeking brilliant! Bravo! I wish I could work with a whole lot more people who shared your excellent “big picture” (no pun?) kind of situational awareness. I’d share a riser with you anytime, sir.

    Rock on.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.

%d bloggers like this: