Customers are the only reason most of us even have a job. As annoying and complicated as they can sometimes be, we need them. I believe one of our responsibilities as a wireless contractor is to spread our knowledge to our customers. Customers come in many WiFi knowledgeable categories. Conveying your knowledge can sometimes be a difficult task depending on the customer?s understanding of wireless. You would not want to try and explain modulation and coding mechanisms to a wireless beginner. Also, you would not want to explain the difference of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectrums to a wireless expert. Our customers have their own individual learning needs. Taking thirty minutes to explain to a customer something he/she is not clear with will go a long way with customer referrals. The customers I meet usually come in four categories. Here are the categories using some Star Wars humor to make it fun.
A Wireless Padawan would be a customer that has very little wireless knowledge. This type of customer usually comes with no pre-existing wireless network. If the customer?s company already had wireless, they usually would have someone with at least intermediate WiFi knowledge. Do not be hard on this customer for not knowing about wireless. When explaining information, do so at a low level. Show them that wireless usually operates in 2.4 and 5 GHz spectrums. Teach them terminology like access points, controllers, and stations/clients. Depending on the person, this type of customer may not be eager to learn or care to hear you teach. If the customer is willing to learn, your job is to have them speaking wireless terminology before you leave.
A Wireless Jedi would be a customer that has a good grasp on WiFi but lacks in some areas. This customer is the most common. They usually come with a preexisting wireless network that is not working properly or new wireless deployment needs. The wireless Jedi already knows about the 2.4 and 5 GHz spectrums and basic terminology. Teach this customer wireless design best practices. Tell them about the benefits of a balanced link budget. Let them know the difference in designing for range or density. Teach them about wireless protection mechanisms and data rates. When you leave, this customer should know what needs to be done to disallow 802.11b devices if wanted.
[b]Wireless Jedi Master[/b]
A Wireless Jedi Master would be a customer with an understanding of in-depth wireless terminology and best practices. This type of customers is hard to come by. If the customer company already has a wireless expert then they usually would not be hiring your company. This type of customer usually comes with a preexisting wireless network that is not working properly. The best possible information you can share with a Jedi Master customer is wireless analysis data. Show them the packets and what to look for. Show them the spectrum duty cycle. Show them your multi-channel capture aggregator. This type of customer already knows a great deal about WiFi and will be eager to learn new things.
[b]Wireless Sith Padawan. [/b]
A Wireless Sith Padawan would be a customer that has very little wireless knowledge but struts around acting like they do. This type of customer is the hardest to work with. They will spill wireless nonsense in the middle of meeting to coworkers. During the meeting you can not call them out and say they are wrong. It is sometimes a delicate process. What I usually do in this situation is, after the meeting I go around to all the people that matter and give them the correct wireless information. After that, depending on the Sith Padawan?s position (network engineer/ network manager/ CTO), I may or may not confront the individual to explain the correct information. Sometimes it is difficult to know when to step in and correct the customer. Most of the time, the Sith Padawan is not eager to listen to you teach because they already know it all.
[b]?How far will that AP reach??[/b]
The infamous how far with that AP reach question is asked a lot. It is best to explain to the customer all the variables in determining the actual ?distance? a station will be able to communicate to the access point at a given data rate. After you have explained, you can give them your distance estimate of the current situation.
[b]?Another contractor said they can cover the area with less APs. Why should I go with you??[/b]
Sometime I want to tell the customer that I could cover a 1,000,000 square foot building with one AP and a 30 dbi omnidirectional monster antenna. Be sure to explain to the customer the benefits of having a balanced link budget. Tell them about regulations. Teach them about hidden nodes and client transmit limitations. The biggest thing to teach them here is the benefits of having multiple collision domains and overlaps for redundancy.
[b]?Why is my throughput not 300mb/s??[/b]
First thing a customer wonders after a fresh 802.11n deployment is why they are not getting speeds of 300mb/s. Be sure to teach them about data rates. That will show them what their maximum rate is at that point in time. Next I tell them about wireless being half duplex and multiple devices sharing the same collision domain. Then, depending on the wireless architecture, you would need to explain to them that the data has to travel to the controller first then to the destination. Wired network speeds will also be a factor. Test the throughput of the wired network before pointing the finger straight at the wireless.
What customer types have you encountered? What are some complicated questions they have asked you?