Going To The Computer Pro
Let me tell you a short story that has nothing to do with computers. A year or two ago, my wife went in for her annual checkup at the doctor. It’s the kind of routine, preventative, fully-covered visit that you start feeling bad if you miss, if for no other reason than because you’ve effectively already paid for it.
Nothing came up, but when pressed my wife mentioned she had been feeling a down and asked if she should be worried about any depressive symptoms, being as depression sometimes seems epidemic in our society these days. The doctor told her she didn’t have any expertise in mental health, but if my wife was concerned, she could give her a referral to an expert. My wife declined, as she was just asking, since it was the closest thing to a major health concern she had.
Fast-forward four months, and we get the insurance statement for that checkup. It turned out that that one question to the doctor was enough to make her check the “mental health consultation” box on that particular interaction, and we ended up getting stuck for about $370, because somehow that wasn’t covered.
Better people than I have written at length about the problems of a healthcare system in which somebody can’t tell within two orders of magnitude how much a medical visit is going to cost. I don’t know what the solution to that is, and that isn’t my field of expertise. My field of expertise is computers, but for our customers, we are like their doctor, except for their computers.
Maybe a dozen times a day, our technical support line rings, and the customer at the other end isn’t asking about any of the services we provide to them. They just have an everyday question about technology. Maybe a dialog popped up they’re nervous about. Maybe their computer is running slowly and they don’t know what to do about it. Sometimes they just want to know how to backup their laptop, and they don’t want to spend hours on Google becoming an expert on it.
I’m sure that keeping that line open helps us; it improves customer satisfaction, or it increases retention, or any of a laundry list of other things. For me, it’s more about making sure our customers have somebody reliable to turn to when they have a simple question. Even customers who just buy a website or an email from us give us a call to ask about how something works, why their phone isn’t working, or if they should fix or replace an old machine. Many of these questions don’t have any relation to the actual services we’re providing the customer, it’s just part of being their experts. It’s part of making sure that they have a place to go to ask questions, no matter how basic, and be able to talk to a real human being.
In our age of “Just Google It”, I think sometimes we’re afraid of just asking somebody what to do. For our customers, we are the alternative to that. They don’t need to figure out what something is called or try to guess which websites are reputable to get instructions or advice from. It grows our relationship, and their trust in us. And they’re never afraid they’re going to get hit with a bill for hundreds of dollars later on down the road.