This week, I spent hours troubleshooting problems with my printer and a laptop. Finally, I realized the problem was not these devices but my Linkys E3000 router. I checked the Linksys technical support page to see if any new firmware updates were available for my router and determined I had the newest one. So, I decided to turn to the live chat feature on the Linksys website for assistance.
My chat request was answered promptly by a Linksys representative. He spent about 30 minutes asking me questions about the setup of my router, printer and computers. I was asked to provide the names and model numbers of equipment and to explain what I’d done so far to troubleshoot the problem. I also had to provide the serial number of my LinkSys E3000 router. It was at this point, after 30 minutes of questioning, I was informed that because my product was out of warranty, LinkSys might have to charge me for assistance.
The customer service technician then walked me through the settings on my router. The technician said he could see some of my router settings were incorrect, but he couldn’t tell me which ones they were unless I paid for further assistance. The fee would be $30 for this incident or I could pay $40 for six months of support. However, the technician noted he could not guarantee that he could fix my problem.
After that, the session turned into a sales pitch in which he tried to convince me to just buy a new Linksys router. I said I’d have to think about it and ended the chat session. When it was over, I felt Linksys had wasted 40 minutes of my life, and I was no closer to solving my computer problems.
As I reflect on this encounter, Linksys, it is easy for me to suggest how you can improve your customer service:
- Offer free support to anyone owning your product, or at least for those who purchased it in the last five years
- If you can’t do #1, ask for the customer’s serial number at the beginning of the chat session, before you ask dozens and dozens of questions about the technical issue. Inform the customer of fees that apply for service, so she can decide up front whether she wants to continue with the chat session.
- If you must charge for out-of-warranty service, apply a reasonable fee, such as $5 per incident. This would be a nice recognition of the fact the customer has given you her business before and would encourage customer loyalty.
- Offer a guarantee for your technical support. Why should I have to pay a fee if you don’t fix my problem?
- Add a disclaimer to your “Live Chat” page warning that customers with out-of-warranty products cannot receive complimentary customer service through this venue.
- Drop the sales pitch. If your problem stopped working in three years, I’m probably not buying another router from you, unless you offer it to me at half-price with a free extended warranty.
In the end, I was able to fix my own router problems. When the time comes to buy a new router, I will examine more closely each manufacturer’s warranty and technical support offerings, and I will definitely think twice before buying another Linksys product.