A User's Worst Nightmare
The biggest nightmare for a laser engraver user is a problem with their machine. Often, these problems are minor and fixable. However, for major issues, a company with technical support is the best route. In this article, I will go over what good technical support should offer and how to deal with them as a customer. This will ease your problem, improve communication, and hopefully fix the machine’s issue, getting you back to engraving sooner rather than later.
To begin, have a reasonable expectation of what good customer support is. If you believe that there is a company that can fix every problem the first time you call-- Then you are going to need heavy medication to deal with actual bad customer support. Percentages count-- if you call four times in a two-day period and no one called you back, then you have a good cause to be upset. When you call the next time, ask to speak to the big boss. Next, if the machine is more than 90 days old, and it needs a part, be prepared to pay for shipping on that part. This is standard. Be aware that most laser engraver manufacturers give a 1-2 year machine warranty. If you bought a machine with less of a warranty, you will get stung with the cost of the part. And you should get angry; especially if the sales guy did not point this out when you purchased the unit. You will most likely find that this type of company that gives such a poor warranty will contact you and actually try to sell you a service contract for what should have been standard with the purchase of a new machine. If the machine warranty is not one year or better, do not buy that machine. If they will not stand behind their machine warranty, do not buy another item from them. (Remember, this machine is what makes your living-- you cannot afford to have downtime!)
Calling Technical Support
Before you call with your problem, you should have attempted to fix the problem at least three times on your own. I have had clients pay my travel time to their site, to have me turn on a machine, and have a fresh boot-up of the computer and machine fix the problem. Other times I have found that the power cord was just un-plugged. Realize, with a good solid unit, it is almost always something simple. Once you have used the baseball rule and tried to figure out the problem three times on your own with no success, YOU MUST CALL. You need to talk to the tech rep. before you are ready to explode -- this is important as we remember our subject (dealing with bad customer service). Since you have tried three times, you will have data on the problem -- have it ready when you make your call. Tell them when the last time the unit worked, what operation you were doing when it started to malfunction, and if you have eliminated any items like switching cutters or changing jobs. DO NOT just say my engraver is broken -- that does not tell a tech anything. Additionally, if you have been having different problems, evaluate them as if they have a common source. For example, if you are new to the product line, then take a moment to think about the last 20 calls you have put in (Yes this is a lot. I only get about 6 after the installation within a 6-12 month period). But if you were just making some rookie errors, that is what customer service is there for -- use them but remember those errors do not count as machine errors; do not hold it against the manufacturer. Now, one very hard thing to do is to treat each problem, at first, like it is the only problem you have had. This way you do not work assumptions into your thinking. For example, I have had clients that were making rookie mistakes because they did not sit in on the installation training. That’s why attaining professional and effective training and installation is crucial! and One person assumed the machine problem was something he was doing wrong -- he was not hitting the right keys to make the program work properly and it turned out to be a loose cable to the machine. This guy was down for 2-days. Troubleshoot like a Vulcan. Cold logic is the key! Assume nothing at first. If you have attempted to call three or more times with no response, send a fax, or send some E-mails.
Let us, at this point, assume this does it and you get them on the phone. You should have relayed to them the data we talked about earlier. Next you must do just what they say even if they are telling you to do something you have already tried. But do not let them talk you into doing something you do not feel comfortable with. You do not want to add to the problem, or worse, break something expensive. And yes, some companies will charge you for that error.
Moving on, let us say that they have tried all avenues and the darn thing just will not kick over. The next option is to get someone out there to fix it -- but keep in mind even a warranty unit does not cover shipping or traveling to your site to fix a problem, and of course, it will not cover your downtime. So, learn from a bad experience to make sure it does not happen again…
Once the technical support is there, have the area around the machine clean so the tech can work. After they arrive, go over the machine history as discussed earlier. Now watch them fix it. You can learn a lot from these guys if you just ask a few questions or pay attention. This is not a training session, but if you can pick up on what they did to fix it, you could save yourself time and money later.
Let me close by saying that a lot of technical support out there are great -- you just need to work with them. And most of the machines are solid, so the greatest number of problems are fixed over the phone. So, if you have had problems with any of your machines for a while, get them into the factory to be overhauled! Do not expect them to take it back. It is like a car --you own it. But do expect for them to make it work. In conclusion, keep your cool with technical support and they will get it fixed, and you can get back to engraving!