Archives For support

appleHow Quickly Are You Responding to Your Customer’s Needs…

Time is important. The way you view your customer’s time just might be the most important part of your offering. Three recent interactions over the past week underscore just how important this is.

Apple Has Great Support

I mentioned in a post the other day that my daughter had been contacted online by a fraudster offering support. She called me in before paying the fraudulent charge, but I still went to Apple to make sure we were doing the right thing.  Apple was easy to contact. My daughter’s system is not new. In fact, it’t time to upgrade. But contacting support was easy, fast, and free regardless of the date I made the purchase. Using the online chat software I had my answers in less than 5 minutes, and the instructions on what to do were easy to follow.

American Airlines Calls You Back

My airline travel was down last year due to more online programs – so I lost my chairman status (USAirways). As a chairman member I always got immediate service.  Now that I no longer have the privilege, I have to wait in line like everyone else when calling in with a problem or question.  Last week was my first call into the now merged AA and USAirways company.  While the wait time was over 15 minutes, the automated system did take my cell number and call me back.  This is a great service for support organizations that don’t have to give immediate assistance. Sure enough, about 30 minutes after I placed the call they called back. I was connected immediately without being tied to the phone listening to hold music and marketing announcements. MMS Blog Ad

Quickbooks Makes You Wait

On the other hand, I had a Quickbooks App issue this morning. My first contact was with a woman who didn’t really speak English. Make sure your people speak the language of the people you support. I’m okay with a slight accent – we get that between northern and southern US. Not a problem.  But this was “Broken Engrish”, and very hard to understand.

She must have asked me 3 or 4 times which version I was using. For some reason she didn’t understand me either. When we finally agreed that I was on a Mac using the App, she told me I needed to talk with the online support team. Before placing me on hold she informed me that Quickbooks does not allow the support team to call out.  So waiting was the only option.

18 minutes later I am on the phone with online support. When I told him I had a Mac with an App, he simply said, “You have to uninstall it and reinstall it. We don’t support the App.” When I complained that the first person should have told me that, he insisted that he had told her to tell me that on the phone. I’m sure he did, but for some reason she did not relay the message. He apologized for wasting half an hour of my day and we hung up.

Computer support is critical. Most of us spend the entire day doing something on a computer. If you’re in the managed services business your clients should be support contracts, not T&M, and the support should be nearly instantaneous.  If you support the security side of your client’s business (which is a must these days) your response time is even more important.  The good news is, fast, quality support is worth paying for when you make money using a computer.

© 2015, David Stelzl

Advertisements

How do you win – you need a strategy.

Yesterday I called customer service to have two warm-steam vaporizers replaced.  This is the 3rd or 4th time these units have had to be replaced over the past seven years – but they are lifetime warranty.  The problem is, they require a $25 dollar fee (each) to return them, plus it costs $10/each to ship them.  I’ve never paid the $25 fee, however they put us to the test yesterday.

I use these opportunities to teach my children how to negotiate, so earlier this week I had one of my daughters place the call.  They started asking all kinds of questions and insisting we were doing something wrong.  She wasn’t getting anywhere.  In the past, this group has been easy to deal with, but something has changed and it didn’t look like we were going to get our units replaced for free this time.   So how did we win?

The key to winning with this type of call is understanding how to escalate the call.  Getting angry never works – after all, they are not obligated to give me anything.  The call center people really have nothing to lose, and certainly no liability.  Gathering my kids around the speaker phone, I said, “Let’s see if we can win this one.”

I made the call, getting the tier one person on the phone.  She insisted on going through a set of  diagnostic questions, and in the end determined that we could in fact send them back, but the $25 dollar fee was firm.  I asked her if she was able to wave that and she said, “No.”  I understand that – her company has apparently not given her authority to take action, so I agreed with her and asked to speak with her direct supervisor.

Tom came on the line next.  He was also hardened..not very friendly.  His tact was to verify if this was actually a warranty issue.  In his opinion it was not.  I asked him if he could do it any way, and he said, “The Policy is…” and basically said, no.  Again, I agreed with him, understanding that he is not authorized to change the policy, but perhaps he could forward me to his manager, which he did.  I politely thanked him for his time.

Carlos was next.  he was genuinely polite, and seemed eager to help.  I explained my situation, which was well documented in his system.  I explained that the shipping fee for this type of item was high, and that the $25/each fee was out of my reach.  I asked if we could wave the fee.  Without question, Carlos said, “No problem, that is what we are here for.”  He is sending me a shipping label, sending me two new units, and will have my old units analyzed in order to report back why they are not working.

The outcome was predictable.  I was able to make this call on the speaker phone in front of my kids as a demonstration because I knew we would win this.  Staying calm, agreeing along the way once it is clear that the person I am dealing with is unable to make a change, and escalating each time, is the key.  This is great practice for selling.  Use these situations to practice dealing with difficult people and negotiations, and apply this to your selling efforts.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Several people commented privately on yesterday’s blog post featuring the iPad…the writing is on the wall.  People like iPad, they like Apple, they like simple, mobile, easy to use, and the status of being an Apple user.  It’s cool to have an Apple…and as I attend sales  meetings and conferences as a speaker, those in the Apple club often let me know when they see me pulling out my MacBook Pro..,”You’re an Apple guy, huh?  Me too.”

On the other hand, those who resell technology at the SMB and consumer level are in trouble, even after Apple just finished selling 14 million units to individuals (and some companies).  Lack of innovation and a lack of Google thinking…The brick and mortar book stores and technology stores are in trouble.  Best Buy’s report in the Wall Street Journal was telling – their value proposition has to do with technical expertise, but apparently buyers are more concerned with price than the future need for service.

But there’s more here.  Apple, at least my Apple workstation and laptop require very little support.  When I bought my Dell laptop two years ago, it came with Vista.  Now there’s a support nightmare.  So much so that after two years I just couldn’t take it any more.  So I put it in the closet and bought a Mac.  Up, running, and no problems. I’ve never had a support call.  With the Dell/Windows systems, not only did the software not work, but I had multiple hardware problems as well.

If you look at high-tech resellers over the past few years, many have built their business on the assumption that profit could be made on support – supporting systems that don’t work, which in turn allows them to sell hardware at a discount.  What happens when someone like Apple starts producing something that does work?  Or they announce something so simple and inexpensive that the user will throw it away and buy a new one – online at a discount.  All of the sudden, the reseller’s new sales model begins to break down. Many of the resellers I know are making most of their profits on problems users shouldn’t be experiencing!  This is destined to fail.  Especially with companies like Apple gaining market share.

© 2011, David Stelzl