Things often don’t happen as per the plan and rugged Handheld purchases are often late, it’s just the nature of them. We address this by being open, honest and transparent about lead times and addressing contingencies early for them. However Rugged PDA Repairs or service needs should be different but rarely are. If I had a £1 for instance for every time someone told me about when they couldn’t get help or couldn’t just talk to someone about their PDA then I would certainly have had a lot more money in my back pocket than I do now!
How do you get round this? Well we spoke to all our customers recently about service and these are the top 5 repair services they wanted to see.
Warranty or not, 4 weeks 6 weeks or even 9 weeks (Yes you know who we’re talking about Motorola and Psion!) is beyond poor. “It’s insulting” and these are the words of our and your customers not us. We can’t understand why people who make the kit and take good margins for it can’t repair it in under 5 days. We do every day here and if you want your warranty only kit back in under 5 days you should have it back.
OK, so we have to look after our fully comprehensive service customers first. These guys have pre-paid for service levels so we simply can’t run out of spares for them and this means that sometimes warranty only people have to wait. It’s rare, but it happens. So what do you need to do in this circumstance? Well most manufacturer lead support would have you think that it’s fine to go silent on you for 3 weeks and then just deliver the goods back to you. I think that’s wrong. I think that customers Rugged PDA’s should be treated like their children that have gone on a school trip. You have a right to know what they’re doing, where they are , what problems there are and when they’re likely to be coming back!! They need to be able to pull information at any time, so a decent info page about their case should be available 24/7. I also think an alert when anything is added or asked for should send out an email to them so they know exactly where they stand at all times.
OK, Motorola and other manufacturers have a UK base so that delivery costs are negotiated but this adds a lot of time onto the sending and return of your device. Pidion dont even have this so you have to send your kit back to germany yourself which costs the best part of £30 for a 1-2 day service (Unless you bought your kit from us that is!!). Having 1 service centre for the whole of Europe and Africa was simply seen as an attempt to cut costs for the supplier doing nothing to help customers directly. People want to send their kit to a UK address they can drop in to, talk to and that they know is working GMT hours just like them. Not to mention a place which is keeping British people in jobs and not lining the pockets of a few.
Closely connected to the UK based repair centre issue was the need for UK people with account management that customers can talk to. Scratch beneath the surface of this and you see that direct contact with engineers was accepted as potentially unviable, but only as long as good access to good expertise with account managers who have a grasp of the repair process and have technical ability was a popular comment made. Expertise and knowledge and giving it freely was seen as a measure of competence and was often a measure of the custoemrs confidence too.
Knowing what to expect, what the standard/popular charges are and also how the whole process of repairs works is paramount to happy customers. Why should you sit there and wait, like good little customers!!? You shouldn’t, you should be the first ones to know how it all works, the process should be transparent and consistent and everything explained to you up front.
What do we think at RAM? If in doubt, default to the customer. That’s what we think. If you have a problem or need to ask questions, then raise them, if you made a mistake be honest and then fix it. It also means if the customer is being unreasonable then you tell them but let me tell me you this. Once you start focussing on your product and service and cut out the cr*p form both sides, things get better……For everyone!