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Customer Service For Gadgets Lacking, Study Finds

November 17, 2008

Gadget makers love to promote all the things their nifty products can accomplish, like allowing us to chat with far-away friends any time or enjoy a movie on our way to work.

There is just one question. Can anyone fix this stuff if it stops working?

That’s a question asked by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which found in a survey published on Sunday that 15 percent of people who had a of technology stop working in the previous year could not get it fixed.

The figure was even greater for specific products. About a quarter of cell phone users said they could never get their devices repaired. Among those who got their devices fixed, a larger percentage fixed the issue themselves or found help from friends or family instead of calling customer service.

“That 15 percent of technology users are sort of throwing up their hands was surprising for us,” said John Horrigan, the writer of the study. “You’re talking about close to one in four cell phone users and one in five computer users saying, ‘Hey I can’t cope with this any longer, I’m done.’”

The survey reviewed computers, Internet service, music players, cell phones and the high end “smart” phones. While the outcomes are not completely accurate descriptions on the state of customer care in the digital age, researchers announce that the information indicates the rising complication of technology.

Zachary McGeary, an analyst with Jupiter Research, mentioned that devices now involve an “increasingly integrated ecosystem of devices.” Plainly put, cell phones and computers cannot work on their own. They have to work with each other.

As providing technical support grows extra intricate, many companies have begun using online communities to help, finding the benefit of many tech-savvy customers who take pleasure in helping others online. This process is the best for fixing problems that involve numerous devices produced by various companies, said Lyle Fong, chief executive of Lithium Technologies Inc., which establishes these online customer forums for businesses.

For instance, picture that you’re trying to get one company’s laptop to cooperate with a different company’s printer. “Which company do you call for issues like this?” Fong said.

On the other hand, the Pew survey indicated that only 2 percent of people deciphered their technology difficulties online.

Approximately 38 percent of respondents contacted customer service, 28 percent answered the problem personally and 15 percent received help from friends or relatives.

The rest, 15 percent, simply gave up.

Horrigan indicated that these results were common in the survey, that many people don’t understand the technology they use every day really works. For example, half of adults who have cell phones or the Internet typically require help to show them how to use it or set it up.

Horrigan disputes that these statistics might convince technology providers to focus more on making their products more user-friendly.

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