or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › A/V Control & Automation › Home Automation › How do you feel about Savant products and services? What do you like? What needs to improve?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How do you feel about Savant products and services? What do you like? What needs to improve?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm an ex-Savant engineer and I'm curious about your experience with Savant - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
post #2 of 18
Are you starting a competitor?
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hypothetically, if I were to assume control of the company (imagine an acquisition or decision by the board of directors), what would I keep intact and what would I change? Primarily I'm looking for is transparent, unbiased feedback from folks who do business with Savant or have done business with Savant in the past (no feelings will be hurt). Secondarily, I have contacts at Savant so if folks are looking for answers I could potentially help find them.
post #4 of 18
Our rep is joke. What stinks is that there are good ones in different territories. Get rid of the reps, and have direct Savant Employees interact with dealers.
post #5 of 18
I was trying to find a Savant dealer for info and a quote. I put my name through their website and it said a Savant rep from my area would contact me within 48 hours. I heard nothing and its been 2 weeks.......

By chance I found a Savant dealer online and I meet with him next week.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
At the time when I left Savant, the company was shifting focus from residential business to commercial business in a big way so I wouldn't be surprised if a residential dealer gets "second class" treatment due to limited resources. If you're trying to sign up as a new dealer I would emphasize your specialties in government, hospitality, MDU, education, house of worship, international business since that's where the company is spending its money right now (certainly from an R&D perspective and I suspect marketing too). For example, if you have any experience outfitting yachts or have clients in the the Caribbean/South America, you'll get call back sooner rather than later.

As far as incompetence, employees/reps being "jokes", I feel your pain. There are some very talented folks in the organization so getting help is a matter of being persistent and climbing the escalation ladder until you reach them - sales and tech support. Once again the problem is limited human resources and that should improve as the company grows. Be honest about how your quality of service - whether employee "x" or rep "y" is being helpful or not - and that feedback will help advance the progress. It will also get you the respect and ultimately better service (IMHO). I've witnessed support engineers being scolded after poor reviews from customers so I know the feedback loop is in place.

If you're in a territory with a "joke" rep I would just contact the favorable rep in another territory - start with NYC/Metro or the West Coast (California). In this age of the internet there's no reason you should have to "wait" for your territory to play catch-up. I don't know the in's and out's of the dealer/rep distribution model but I suspect it isn't going to go away soon and the best bet is to work around the bad players. I have to believe that the market will ultimately favor salespeople/reps who have done their technical homework on the products and can do some tech training/support (over those that just wine, dine, close, forget you).
post #7 of 18
I am in the service department of a large residential install company. I find dealing with Savant service as "painful"!! Only being able to call into a call center and not directly to the support team is on par with calling into "Peggy".

Recently I had an issue so I call support. Come to find out the call center thing, so I leave a message and play the wait game. As I am waiting I walk to a part of the property that has no cell reception, something I learned after I moved back to a location with reception. Come to find out I have a message. So I call back to the same call center. I tell the person that I missed the call and ask to be transferred. I am told this is not possible because the 2 systems are not tied into to each other. So again I wait, this time leaving my phone in a location I know has service while I move about. The client comes in and we talk for about an hour, all while I am waiting for a return call. Another 30 minutes or so goes by so I remove the product I believe is broken and go get some lunch. Of course close to 2 hours later and while I am at lunch I get a call back. Knowing that the next chance I get to talk to someone might be a day or two, I answer the phone and walk out of the restaurant.

The issue at hand was an MSE chassis that had lost power, and replacing the fuse did not fix the issue. The person I talk with tells me the RMA department will have to look at the situation since the unit is now 3 months out of warranty. I am told they will contact me. This is Monday afternoon. After not hearing from anyone on Tuesday while the office is bugging someone to help us. I get a response on Wednesday afternoon about swapping out the power supply. They suggest I try this with a unit in stock to see if this fixes the issue. Finally Friday I get back in the office to find none of the units we have use the same type of power supply. I have a "ticket" at this point and tell them I am sending in the unit to be repaired. We are an install shop, not a repair shop.

I get a call at the office from Savant and I am told they no longer support this chassis and if a new power supply does not work they will sell us a replacement @ 10% off. How nice of them!! Savant will not take the unit back to replace the power supply and test the unit. This unit was installed 15 months prior and cannot be fixed by Savant. Crestron, AMX, and Extron fix all kinds of older product. Some stuff so old I am amazed they will even touch, but they do. We get that product breaks, but if you do not stand behind your product why should anyone else.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
"We are an install shop, not a repair shop." <-- I like this point you make.

"RMA" was a four letter word in the office while I was there and I hope it's being addressed more openly and adequately today (a year later). I know we took care of folks who were a month or so out of warranty so I'd demand a better discount than 10% on the replacement (Ask for a free replacement and let "Peggy" know Crestron/AMX are there for you). If I recall, redundant power supplies for the MSE chassis was on the road map and I suspect the current generation addresses the power supply quality concerns.

If I ran the company I'd be investing in better quality and (support/training) infrastructure over bleeding edge "headline grabbing" features for sure. I'd be shooting for 3 - 5 year warranty periods before I dreamed of expecting hard working folks to build my stuff into their luxury spec homes. That's not unrealistic. How often do you replace an old fashioned light switch?

RoddyMCG - Thanks for sharing. I feel you.
post #9 of 18
Tech support has been a huge challenge but I get the feeling Savant is working on that. It seems to be getting better.

Savant is also willing to let anyone become a dealer and that has put a lot of price pressure on their products. This is something they need to change and need to change quickly. Otherwise, they will become exactly like everyone else.

Savant is brilliant at marketing so it has been fun to ride those coattails. We've installed a large number of Savant systems and they work very well!
post #10 of 18
I should also point out that, being a dealer for both Control4 and Savant, we get a lot of questions about the pros and cons of Savant. While Savant does have some "internal" issues, their products tend to work great and clients love the interface.

We tried to capture the pros and cons in a blog post. Enjoy!

http://www.residentialsystemsinc.com/control4-vs-savant-for-todays-smart-home/
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Travis, that's a great blog post. Savant is all about applying the Apple recipe to the home automation game and I think it's a sure bet if they follow through. Namely, control product quality, come up with an "Applecare" equivalent to support dealers, and beef up training/documentation so dealers can ramp up to self sufficiency more rapidly (including marketing materials).

You make a good point about dealer selection and price pressure. I agree with you. I think it's too aggressive to ramp up the dealer base before the infrastructure is proven. The bigger Savant footprint won't help anyone if things like support quality are further diluted.

And that's all the more reason to keep pressure on Savant about the poor support experience.

Has anyone been to the Savant dealer conferences? That's the best opportunity to have your voice heard and also a great time to demand progress reports (Ask for data and numbers!).

What's the Control4 support experience like? versus Savant?

Who's the customer support/service favorite among the automation solution options?
post #12 of 18
I haven't been to a dealer conference but am planning on doing that next time they have one.

Control4 is a great company. We love working with them and they are very responsive to our needs. They are probably more responsive than Savant but that's part of being in business for as long as they have. They have a more robust infrastructure in place for technical support.

I always tell people that picking between Savant and Control4 is like picking which of my kids I like the best. I really like both of them!!
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
The dealer conferences are another device from the Apple playbook and they're great for dealers and developers/engineers alike. There are discussion panels, industry speakers, training seminars for new products and features, dealer awards/decorations and boatloads of networking. As an engineer it's rewarding to hear directly from folks who benefit from your work. It's also useful to get a feeling for what headaches remain and which new features people are dying to get their hands on.

One point on the Savant UI - People do love it for sure. The canned themes that shipped while I was at Savant didn't quite show off the full "dynamic range" of the system. That may have changed since. The dealer shops that invest in Adobe Photoshop expertise can really fine tune their look and layout to match interior design/decor for their clients and I think that is one area where those shops can differentiate themselves. I hope Savant puts more emphasis there - more diverse themes that stray from the "grid of square buttons" look, an online "gallery" of the best dealer submitted designs, more recognition for dealers that get creative.
post #14 of 18
I am highly critical of companies who don't do a good job but can't share anything but positive about our Savant experience. Our rep is fantastic. And our regional sales manager very supportive. The support we get in the field is exceptionally good, way better than other control companies. Importantly, they are quick to accept product limitations and do everything in their power to remedy the situation. We had an example of this where they loaned up a bunch of free gear to get the customer running again. Other companies make you jump through many hoops, blaming you for problems and only when every other excuse is exhausted do they accept a problem.

In general they have a culture of transparency and accepting issues which others as I said do not. They are also extremely patient and wiling to stay on the line for hours if needed to get problems resolved.

I can't fathom why others are having such different experience. And to be clear, we install and service four major control systems so what I say doesn't come because we only handle Savant.

My suggestion is to escalate your issues to your local/regional sales manager and work up the chain to get them resolved. I see no reason why you can't enjoy the same positive experience as us.
post #15 of 18
Overall, our experience with Savant has been very positive. Like all growing companies, though, they have growing pains. I am happy they are addressing the important ones, though.

I agree they are a very transparent company and easy to do business with.
post #16 of 18
Hmmm...

An interesting part of these posts have been the numerous suggestions about how to best get Savant to support and stand behind their product ( i.e. work with a different rep, push your issues up through then chain of command and the like) as if this is a skill set to be acquired and shared. As a consultant working in both commercial and custom resi, the manufacturers we support and specify all have great products and innovative solutions - yet each and every one of them also literally bends over backwards to stay in touch, hear our feedback, respond appropriately (even if they don't necessarily agree with us) and reach out to us to see what THEY can do for US.

My judgement is that until Savant chooses to embrace that concept willingly they will remain a second-tier solution, regardless of how innovative their products may appear to be to residential end users. Call me "old-fashioned", but also call me "still profitably in business for more than 25 years".

Great gear and exceptional support is a timeless combination - let's hope Savant is listening.
Edited by touch33 - 2/12/13 at 11:06pm
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by touch33 View Post

Hmmm...

An interesting part of these posts have been the numerous suggestions about how to best get Savant to support and stand behind their product ( i.e. work with a different rep, push your issues up through then chain of command and the like) as if this is a skill set to be acquired and shared. As a consultant working in both commercial and custom resi, the manufacturers we support and specify all have great products and innovative solutions - yet each and every one of them also literally bends over backwards to stay in touch, hear our feedback, respond appropriately (even if they don't necessarily agree with us) and reach out to us to see what THEY can do for US.
If you are referring to my post then this interpretation is incorrect. There were not numerous suggestions. But rather a simple observation that if you have an issue with your local company representatives, call the people above them and explain the situation. Posting in a consumer forum not monitored by the company will not generate any results.
Quote:
My judgement is that until Savant chooses to embrace that concept willingly they will remain a second-tier solution, regardless of how innovative their products may appear to be to residential end users. Call me "old-fashioned", but also call me "still profitably in business for more than 25 years".
If you have been in business for that long then you know that the people that support you locally change from time to time. Sometimes this is for the better, sometimes for the worse. Bad hires exist and no company can guarantee they don't put the wrong person/rep in your region. You need to be the feedback loop for them telling them if the service level has gone down so that they can fix it. The company itself far away from your location is not going to see issues like that as clearly.

We currently carry four major control systems and have had exactly those ups and downs with all of them. With Savant, we initially did not use them a few years back because they had a very sour regional sales manager. So we passed. If we can't create a strong partnership with a company with such a critical component, we simply won't use the product. We need an escalation path for issues that come up (and they *will* come up with any control system) and a critical component of that is such a good relationship. Pls see more below.
Quote:
Great gear and exceptional support is a timeless combination - let's hope Savant is listening.
With respect to our experience as I posted, they are already there. As I said, if it is not for others, they need to escalate. If nothing changes then they should look at other options. Note that in my book this is a two-way relationship. You have to show competence. You have to bring them sales. You have to help them market the product in your region. You have to have a positive and supportive attitude towards them. Once you do these, it is my experience that almost all companies return the favor with exceptional and above and beyond service which will help you differentiate against your competitors and serve your customers better. I would not pick any manufacturer for core components of the business without being able to create such true partnerships. Treat them as your "vendors" or "suppliers" and you are going to get lackluster support and your customers will suffer as a result.

Not saying that is your situation at all smile.gif. Just that you have to play a role in this too. There is going to be a time where you need to reach an engineer who designed something to get an answer and you won't get there if it is an arm's length relationship. Take a look at this article for example that I wrote recently on computer optimization of acoustics: http://www.madronadigital.com/Library/Computer%20Optimization%20of%20Acoustics.html. Look at the credits at the end and you see that Harman designers and researchers worked directly with me on putting this article together. We use Harman (JBL, Revel, Mark Levinson) in a range of products and are a critical part of our business. per above, we have worked over the years to earn their respect and partnership and as such, get such deep access to people behind the technology. It allows us to know the products way better than others and get a level of support that goes above and beyond. For my part, I had to make the investment to learn their technology, and write these articles highlighting the excellent work they do. Our customers (or even non-customers in the case of this article) win. We win. And so does Harman.

Here is another example article, this time written for a non-technical publication that I wrote with a proper mention of Savant: Intorduction to Home Automation http://www.madronadigital.com/Library/PremBuilder%20Mar-Apr%202012%20Article.pdf. Hopefully you see another example of a partnership working. And at the same time generating useful information for our joint customers (in this case, the designers and builders who specify them).

Would it be good to get great support if you didn't do any of this? Sure. But best practices should be followed to maximize the relationship.
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Touch33 - I agree with you 100% about having a strong core business/profit/growth ethic come from within. I think the free market is demanding more and more honesty, transparency, and quality from the players and this will keep companies like Savant growing in the right direction. Travisleo makes a great analogy in his article about Savant and Control4 being like growing children who are still young, impressionable. The thing about children is that they listen when we give them attention. I think being honest with each other as customers and consumers and with the "children" is the best thing we can do to make them all "first tier" solutions. I also think that when children are ready to listen, take criticism, negotiate the touch inner challenges/demons, they will.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Home Automation
AVS › AVS Forum › A/V Control & Automation › Home Automation › How do you feel about Savant products and services? What do you like? What needs to improve?