Firm Raises Bar for PC Support

If you’re ever starved for conversation at a cocktail party, bring up the subject of computer support. It’s sure to start a buzz in the room, since almost everyone has a horror story to tell about the topic.

The reason everyone has a terrible tale is that customer service in the PC industry is at a woeful state, according to David A. Milman, CEO and founder of Rescuecom in Syracuse, N.Y.

“Customer service, particularly in the computer services-computer technology space, has been deteriorating for years,” he told CRM Buyer.

“Just about everybody in the technology space has dropped the ball when it comes to being customer-focused,” he contended. “Anybody who has had to deal with tech support on the phone, trying to go through a phone tree or get somebody to help them has experienced the downside of the technology space.”

Fixed or Free

That’s why Rescuecom launched Wednesday its “fix it or it’s free” program. Under the guarantee, once a Rescuecom technician diagnoses a problem and provides a solution to it, the problem will be resolved as described or the service is free.

“What we’re doing with this guarantee is taking what our philosophy has been from the very beginning and putting it out there so our customers can see that they can get good customer service in the technology space,” Milman said.

“Rescuecom is the only national company that services anything a customer might have — home computers to supercomputers, wireless Internet to global networks, hardware to software,” he added. “And we do it all on site, without a phone tree, and we fix it or it’s free.”

What’s more, the company will respond swiftly to emergencies. It can have a techie on-site within an hour, 24-7, 365 days a year. On average, that service costs US$190 an hour.

Personal Geek

Rescuecom wasn’t the only geeks-on-call company crowing about its service this week. On Tuesday, PlumChoice, of Bedford, Mass., which provides tech support for CircuitCity, announced a “Select Your Favorite Tech” option on its Web site.

The feature allows customers to schedule a service call with their favorite technician.

“For consumers to have a positive experience with their technology, they need support they can count on and trust,” PlumChoice CEO and founder Ted Werth said in a statement. “People understandably become attached to a technician who helps them.”

“It’s less stressful for the customer if they know they can call on that same individual again, whenever they need service,” he added. “It’s like having your own personal technology expert.”

Interactive Support

Unlike on-site service outfits, PlumChoice provides all its support over the phone and Internet.

“What we do is provide a remote support service,” Werth told CRM Buyer. “With the customer’s permission, we connect to their computer and we fix problems while they watch us.”

PlumChoice has a number of payment schemes, but the basic charge is $25 per quarter hour.

Not for Everyone

Werth acknowledged that remote delivery of support has it limitations. He said that the company can’t help about 15 percent of callers because they have a hardware or connectivity problem.

For the 85 percent of callers PlumChoice can help, though, it’s getting very high marks, according to Werth.

“We have a 94 percent positive rating from our customers, a four percent neutral rating,” he said. “That’s phenomenal for an industry that’s in the mid fifties in terms of satisfaction.”

Calling the Plumber

Rescuecom and PlumChoice are part of an industry segment that’s been growing rapidly over the last two years and attracting large as well as small players.

Last October, for example, Cox Communications, the nation’s third largest cable television provider, launched an on-site service for home computer users in New England called the Cox Tech Connection.

“We knew that there was a demand for this type of service because people were calling us about issues unrelated to our Internet service,” Cox New England spokesperson Leigh Ann Woisard told CRM Buyer. “We view it as a natural extension of our high-speed Internet business.”

Andy Trask, co-founder of Geek Housecalls in Lexington, Mass., explained that the industry is riding on a wave of consumer frustration.

“Consumers encounter so many problems, they become sick of it and decide to call somebody to fix them,” he told CRM Buyer. “If your toilet backs up, the first couple of days you might plunge it, but by the time you get to day three or day four, you’re going to call a plumber.”

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