Jat Mann discusses the often-prickly subject of providing customers with guarantees and warrantees within the IT industry.
Here's a scenario which many of us at the customer end of the industry are familiar with...
Customer: “Thanks for fixing my computer and removing the virus. Can you guarantee it won’t go wrong again?”
IT Engineer: “Sure – just as long as you promise never to turn it back on ever again or go on the internet.”
This may sound a little flippant, but therein lies the truth. The overwhelming majority of computer engineers and retailers are determined to offer customers an excellent service and will often go above and beyond the call of duty when fixing a customer’s computer.
However on some occasions, an IT engineer’s heart is often saddened when a customer calls back stating that the issue has returned and that they ‘haven’t done anything and have hardly used the computer’.
Home appliances, like fridges and washing machines, often last for over a decade, which often leads customers to expect the same from their IT equipment and devices.
The only customer involvement with these white goods was in opening and closing the them or, in the case of a washing machine, selecting the one function that did everything and using only that for the entire ownership of the producy (despite the machine having more than 15 cycle options and a few more bells and whistles).
But with PCs, the clue is in the name: Personal Computer. A computer is in many ways an extension of ourselves, where we can change wallpapers, settings and indulge in visiting websites that suit our interest or mood at the time.
But from anecdotal experience, the more a human has involvement with equipment, the more likely it is that something will go wrong. Software-related issues are unfortunately the digital equivalent of a cyclist getting a puncture – they are unavoidable occupational hazards.
So my tips for dealing with issues regarding guarantees/warrantees are: Firstly, make sure you have a solid policy for them and that the team are aware of these.
Secondly, make sure you explain to the customer when they purchase a computer that things will go wrong and the good news is that you are here to help them but some assistance will be chargeable.
Thirdly, empathise with the customer and be honest.
And lastly, a little bit of goodwill goes a long way.
Hopefully, by implementing these tips your customers will see you as people to rely upon when (not if) things go wrong.
Jat Mann is MD of www.PCPal.co.uk. You can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org