Audio-Technica’s Audio Solutions department is the first point of contact for A-T’s end-users, reps, and dealers hunting out answers to technical questions, product advice and help solving audio puzzles.
Rick Joyner never knows what the next phone call will bring: “I walked in the door one day with my phone ringing and it was someone figuring out the best way to mic monks in a monastery doing Gregorian chant.”
Joyner is Manager of A-T’s Audio Solutions department, which is the first point of contact for
“We're one of the few companies where, first of all, you can actually get a phone number to call someone,” says Joyner. “And when you call, you actually get a human being on the phone…someone that knows what they're talking about.”
Who calls? “Our calls can range from someone with very little experience with audio trying to connect a mic to a home computer or home stereo system, all the way to front-of-house engineers with touring professionals. We'll spend as much time with amateurs as we will with professionals—we’re here to help them, whoever they are.”
Calls frequently come in from installation contractors, consultants and churches. “These are folks we talk with a lot,” says Joyner. “We have contractors call in asking for help while they’re standing on a ladder with a screwdriver in one hand and a cell phone in the other. It's nice that we can be there for them during the install—keeping them from making a second trip to the site.”
200-mile long screwdriver
Sometimes phones aren’t quite enough. “We use a lot of electronic media as well,” says Joyner. “We're trying to resolve a customer’s problems with a 200-mile long screwdriver. We ask every question under the sun, but if we’re not seeing the problem, sometimes we ask them to take a picture of their sound booth or room and email it to us. And just yesterday I had someone on the phone who couldn’t understand how we were attaching a mic to an acoustic guitar. I took a digital photo; then they understood.”
Joyner, a guitar and bass player himself, has stocked the Audio Solutions department with instruments for quick reference. Along with a variety of guitars, there’s an upright bass and a violin. “Someone said it’s starting to look like a music store in here. That’s because we do our best to reproduce customers’ issues,” Joyner says. “So we've built up a test lab with all our products as well as with instruments. We have such a base of musicians in this company to draw from—we’ll bring in instruments from home when we need them.”
Audio Solutions has even been known to make site visits. “For example, we had a touring professional group come into Cleveland and give us a call. One of our guys [based at Audio-Technica U.S. headquarters in nearby Stow, Ohio] grabbed an armload of mics and headed up there.”
More than 95 percent of incoming queries are answered directly by Audio Solutions Specialists. “A lot of our calls some are simple—something like—hey, you need to throw a switch,” Joyner explains. “Many take some research because someone is wanting to interface a mic with a video camera or DAT recorder; we spend a lot of time reading manuals for other company’s products. With some problems—and these are the most fun—we’ll have half the engineering staff and all of our team in here scratching their heads.”
Any given day
In addition to phone consultations and online technical support, the department gathers feedback from the field to identify emerging trends and business opportunities, and assists in product design, development and sales. They also compose answers to frequently asked questions, which are posted on the A-T website.
With such a variety of questions pouring in, Joyner says the answer isn’t always an Audio-Technica product. “If a customer asks for a product that maybe we don't have—or maybe our product is not the best product for their need—we'll refer them to a competitor.”
Joyner brings a wealth of relevant professional experience to his role, including over 25 years as an analyst with Procter and Gamble, along with the audio-specific knowledge he gained as owner of White Horse Studios. A member of the Audio Engineering Society and Gospel Music Association, Joyner’s musical and recording background complements his expertise in gathering and responding to feedback from the marketplace. He is now focused on fulfilling the informational needs of Audio-Technica’s internal and external publics, managing and aiding the Audio Solutions Department’s efforts to offer convenient tools for anyone working in the audio industry.
A.T.U.S. Vice President, R&D/Engineering, Jackie Green comments, “Our Audio Solutions Department is helping us see the range of issues faced by A-T customers, and build stronger partnerships along the way. Rick heads up a team that is proficient in a vast array of pro audio applications, and this talented group offers many valuable problem-solving, education, evaluation and presentation tools.”
“It’s an exciting job,” says Joyner. “We never know what will happen on any given day. Every other call is a learning opportunity for us. We never know when we’re going to hear from someone trying to use a microphone in a way we’ve never thought of. When that happens, we go and do some research, and try it ourselves. It’s a great job.”
Reach Audio Solutions by phone (330-686-2600), online, or by e-mail (email@example.com) Monday - Friday between 8:30 A.M. and 5:30 P.M. EST.