Sunday, October 12, 2008

A word about customer service

Several days ago, I was in the store of a friend of mine, who is in the computer business.  A customer came in to purchase a wireless router and my friend turned him away, stating that he didn’t sell or support wireless routers.  He then explained to me why he didn’t sell these products.  His comments are worth repeating.

My friend recognized that any product sold should be backed with good customer service which includes personal, email, live chat, and phone support.  With a typical profit margin of ten dollars or less, he simply could not provide the necessary support so he chose not to sell the product and concentrate his effort in areas where his knowledge and talent would be of value to the customer and profitable to his company.  Smart man!

The fact is that customer service has a cost.  One of the companies most often criticized for overcharging for software is Motorola.  Motorola charges ten times (or more) for software than most other companies.  They also require that all purchasers register before they will see the software at any price.  Why does Motorola make it so hard to purchase software?

First, there is an FCC requirement that field programming of 2-way radios is only to be performed by SELF SERVICING END USERS or as we call them, SEU’s.  This means that the user must possess the technical capability and knowledge of the FCC rules before being given the opportunity to change the operating parameters of licensed communications devices.  Motorola makes every attempt to assure that they have met this requirement before selling software.

Second, Motorola recognizes the benefit of knowing who has their software to allow them to notify users of upgrades, renewals, etc.

Third, and maybe most important of all – Motorola generates sufficient revenue to provide the support necessary to assist their customers when help is needed.  That is business the way it should be!

So what is our point?  The point is that you don’t get something for nothing!  While it is true that many manufacturers offer low cost programming software. It is basically sold as a product or accessory on the assumption that the purchaser will know how to follow the instructions provided with the software (generally in the Help screen section).  This has proven to be not necessarily so….

Does that manufacturer owe their customers phone support to walk them through programming issues?  Whether they owe it or not, the fact is that they cannot justifiably support such customer service on a low cost 2-way radio sold on extremely tight margins. 

So what is the solution?  We can take a lesson from Microsoft.  You pay for specialized support.  We charge $75 per hour with a $25 minimum.  If you need help in programming any of the products we sell, with the exception of Motorola, call us at 205.854.2611.  Have your American Express, Discover, MasterCard or VISA ready, and we’ll give you an assist.  This way, we can provide the highest level of customer service at reasonable cost.  That’s a winning situation for all concerned!  You get service as required, and we don’t go broke in the process!