Simplify Your Customer Support with New Tech Tools

 

There’s a revolution going on in company customer support teams, and it’s being drive­n by advanced technologies. New tech tools like website avatars, interactive voice messaging, live chat tools and more are helping to streamline customer service in companies.

Saving time while solving issues has always been important for any business. But as technology has grown rapidly in business in recent years, companies have upped their arsenal to work with customer service software at a faster rate while utilizing fewer employees.

The frustrations of customer service still exist. The most common is probably ‘not being able to speak to a person from the company’. It’s true, when customers have a product or service issue, they want human interaction, not an automated program. The company phone system may refer the caller to the company website, but the customer may still end up in without a direct help link. Or it may push the call to automated messaging. But if the caller gets put on hold for too long, he may get frustrated, hang up and the issue stays unresolved. What can a company do to avoid all this technology frustration?

Here are some of the ways customer support teams can balance their customer response with the need to save costs on operations.

 

Keep the Customer Informed

Let the customer know how long the issue will take to process. Describe to the customer what particular steps you are taking to resolve the issue and repeat that along the process.  Never make a customer wait over three minutes, before letting them know that the representative is still with them.

 

Offer Live Chat and or Live Web Support

Live chat and or live support is instantly available via computer. Studies show that consumers appreciate live chat or live support with company representatives. There may be words instead of a voice on the other end, but at least customers know that they have made contact and an issue is being resolved.

 

Offer Mobile Payment Options

For some small businesses, transactions can be done using a Square reader and a customer’s credit card right to the mobile phone.  This is a new customer service area that’s growing in popularity and expectation among customers of your company’s service or products. Digital processing technologies have also allowed for bill payments via smart phones and home PCs, instead of mailing out paper payments.

 

Shopping Rewards and Loyalty Cards

Customers have shown to be loyal to brands when tangible benefits are found using rewards programs and loyalty cards. Let customers access discounts on their mobile devices at the point of purchase. Customer support tools like online surveys and after-service surveys can be used for enhancing these marketing initiatives.

 

Provide Self-Service Options

Offering more customer options such as self-serve checkout lanes can quicken a shopping or online experience. But it can also enable less human interaction at the point-of-sale. So it’s important to monitor this activity for any possible ways to improve the experience.

Solid customer support can have a profound effect on a company’s bottom line. Using tech tools to create new opportunities in customer support is definitely an area worth watching. 



This article was written for The Computer FIxer by Allyson Bonavita

The Ramifications Of TLDs And The Future Of .com Websites

There was a time when everyone wanted to purchase a dot.com domain because they were the hottest trend on the Internet. If you’re an IT professional, or just an early computer user, you may have been one of the few who did purchase one (or many) domains, some were successful in creating high quality websites while others didn’t survive. TLDs (top level domains), such as .com, .org, and .net, are said to have had quite an impact on the value assigned to domain names. Before new businesses and computer users go to a website broker for a new domain name, it can’t hurt to understand the past, present and future of the workings of domain value.

Past Projections of TLDs

According to a 2011 interview on ElliotsBlog, domain expert, Tim Schumacher explains that the monetary value of secondary domain names will have no affect on the prices of those domains. He stated that after multiple top level domains first came out, it was clear to see that some of them did well, and others were failures. Schumacher also stated that gTLDs (generic top level domains) have been a necessary part of the business world since 2001. He went on to state that the idea of ".xxx" domains, which are meant specifically for adult websites, was spoken about frequently but had not become a popular trend.

New gTLD Program’s Concerns

In June 2011, a new gTLD program was approved by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and was launched 7 months later. According to Tina Dam, of CircleID.com, if this program did not work as intended, there were concerns that the program would have a harmful impact on domain names. Industry experts were worried that if the first release of this program had negative results, the company running the program opened themselves up to lawsuits and the launching of websites that were unstable.

Other Considerations

Tina Dam also stated that if select gTLDs were unsuccessful when they were first released, users would be less likely to use generic top level domains in the future. She felt that some users may end up choosing a domain name that would not effectively function for their intended purpose. This is a feasible concern for new small businesses because while there are a myriad of domains to choose from, they have to find a relevant domain name for their site; otherwise, it could potentially ruin their business. Dam also stated that in the event a user claims a domain name someone else abandoned and that person decides they want it back, both financial and legal complications could arise. This will destroy the confidence of Internet users everywhere.

Another concern is that, as of 2012, personalized domain names are now becoming available. These domains used to fall under the category of gTLDs prior to 2012. When a person or company buys a personalized domain, they actually become the owner of a TLD. For example, Apple can buy their own domain name with the extension .apple, and have their own collection of sites.

Controversy

There has been some controversy surrounding this new system. The FTC feels that there is a potential for users to abuse a personalized domain after they purchase it, due to the influx of users registering their personalized domain. Those who run the ICANN program state that they can keep track of and deal with any abuse that results. For this reason, they have set the price for a personalized TLD to $185,000 in registration fees. This is done to discourage abusive users from purchasing these exclusive domain names. Anyone wanting to buy a top level domain through this program must go through a process to determine if they are qualified to purchase one.

Moving Forward

IT professionals who are considering purchasing a top level domain for their startup business it is a good idea to work with a designer, and possibly consult with a website broker before making the purchase. The consultant should be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have before beginning the process of purchasing a personalized domain name for use.

Do you still need computer repair?

Do I still need computer repair?

The computer repair industry is always changing. Some the changes the repair industry is challenged with are computers are less expensive to buy and there is lot of new attractive devices such as the Apple iBook or Android (tablet computers). So with that said; do I still need  computer repair?

The good news for the service and repair industry is that the newer the device the more complicated it gets and the more service is needed, it’s not just repairs anymore. Set up, installation, connectivity, networking and servers, security, data transfer and recovery or just finding out what’s wrong so you can decide to fix or buy.

More good news is the number of computers out there that require a variety of services. Annual computer sales recently topped a billion worldwide. 37 percent of those computers were laptops and desktop computers used in businesses including home based offices. Of course there are a lot of computers used by homeowners and students for education or personal use.

 
Even more good news; there are no major corporations performing repairs, it is a market that small business owners rule. If you need service you need to find a local service center to carry-in your computer or pay a local guy to come to you. The Computer Fixer likes to say “service performed at your place or ours.” We were voted number one in computer service by Philadelphia Magazine.

Check out our blog http://www.thecomputerfixer.com/blog/repair-case-study/  you can see examples of the repair and services we perform and how much we charge.

Chris Gordon, Small business owner of a local computer repair says;
I do not think that PC repair will ever decline, but like most industries it has changed, and it will continue to change. We are dealing with a much more computer savvy client; they appreciate help but do not need us for everything. Computers have also changed they are no longer the hobbyist systems of yesterday. So if we are staying current with the technology we can help this new consumer and they will build our business. Our jobs are no longer the master of the mysterious box that somehow increases productivity, but the guide through all of the IT choices available and if we give good fair prices, reliable guidance, we will earn their trust and they will come to us with repairs as well as anything else they need. And it is true, "Size doesn’t matter." You may have only 1 computer or 25 computers we are ready to serv.

Jay Powell, General Manager of a computer service company in Philadelphia agrees; Chris you make a valid point that coincides with my experience – if consumers have data on a PC they have never backed up, and now it has issues concerning recovery, they are willing to sacrifice a greater expense to save it (or just the data). To me that’s where the most concern seems to lie…pictures, e-mail, taxes, etc.

Next they weigh cost of repair against replacement. $250 spent repairing a 3 – 5 year old PC they bought for $500 – $600 and they start thinking differently. I won’t say there isn’t a market, because there is…it’s just different from a few years ago. Personally I’d rather complete 10 fixes in the $100 range for customers than 5 for $200. Those first 10 keep the customers content…not spending too much and believing in repair as an option.

 The 5 @ $200+ start the disposable mindset in action. Time to purchase a new computer, Jay may I bring my new laptop to you so I can have my data transferred from my broken computer?

 

How to use your phone while driving

How to use your phone while driving

Face the facts, all of us at some time are tempted to use their phone while behind the wheel. Drivers mentally struggle every time that important call or text comes through while we are driving, we want to drive safe and “do the right thing,” not allowing yourself to get distracted.

Statistics confirm that if we don’t drive distracted then we are in fewer accidents and exhibit overall better driving. We all know the rules of the road, but it’s not enough. Here some techno-tools to help you resist from answering that phone while driving.

First, try talking to others about safe-driving. You probably will receive “sure, okay, whatever” comments but remember sharing some simple rules of the road will keep all of us safe. There are too many of us giving in to the temptation and driving unsafe. Just look around while you drive at all the people using their phones at intersections or that person who is driving slower than everyone else because they are texting or looking up a contact to make a call.

There are ways to help our younger drivers learn, but a lot of experienced drivers should know this as well. Alive at 25 helps you find driving safety courses developed by the National Safety Council. There are some good reality checks here to think about. It may even help you realize how fragile life is

Another interesting way to help you resist those urges to use the phone while driving is the use of cell phone monitoring apps. These distracted driving monitors notify the parent, spouse or other caring person that web browsing, texting or emailing is occurring when the phone’s speed is over 10 mph. As a parent or caring friend you can remotely enable phone tracking (using the phone’s GPS) from the driver’s mobile phone.

We all know that driving while texting, surfing the Web and emailing is a big no-no. Luckily, there are a lots of applications available for Smart phones like Android and the Apple iPhone that will disable the phone while it’s in motion, except for emergency calls.

Most allow you to set an automated text reply, such as “I am driving right now; I’ll get back with you shortly”.

DriveSafe.ly offers a free application for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry phones. It reads your text messages and emails aloud, hands-free, it is Bluetooth compatible and has a customizable auto-responder. It’ll read up to 50 words per message for free.

http://www.drivesafe.ly/

http://www.safetycenter.org

http://phoneguard.com

 

Responsible for Recycling computer desks

 

Computer table 72" wide downview – $Donation + costs (Philadelpia area)


 


A 17 inch monitor fits neatly below the tabletop – desktop allowing the entire desktop area to be used. You look through anti-glare glass to view the monitor easily. The keyboard drawer easily retracts under the desk as well. Constructed from the highest quality materials, this workstation combines saving space with a modern design. The classroom or office table – desk holds two computers (side by side) and are 3 to 4 years old, made so well the tables originally came with a lifetime warranty. We have 9 units ready for delivery or pick up.

These tables were used and maintained in a university classroom, very clean, excellent condition and originally cost $699.00. This is a great furniture deal for office, classroom, and training room. Since there are 9 tables X’s two computers per table = class size of 18 computers total.

service, repair, recover, replace, restore, renew

service, repair, recover, replace, restore, and renew

 

The Computer Fixer does what our name says. We fix computers. But if we tried to put all the services that we do in our name we would fill an entire page, several pages. Just check the pages on our web site. http://www.thecomputerfixer.com/

service

  • computer installation and repair on all brands of computers
  • home network setup and support
  • wireless networking
  • Internet connections
  • system and memory upgrades
  • computer tune-up
  • recovery services
  • backup
  • virus and malicious software removal
  • security and performance
  • e-mail setup
  • laser printer help
  • software installation
  • purchase recommendations

repair –  do whatever is necessary to make a non-working laser printer, MAC or laptop work.

recover – bring your computer back to normal, we can save you from losing your documents, music and pictures.

replace – experts at putting something new in place of something that got worn out.

restore – we can do it!, bring it back to its original state.

renew – to make it work like new, make extensive changes so it can be used like it once was.

Want to work from home or on the road?

The Home Office

The Road Warrior

 

Working at home or on the road is so much easier if you can tap into the phone system and computer network at the office. I will share with you the hardware, connectivity, and applications that are commonly used for small businesses and for the professional who needs the option to work at home.

  Phones offer voice, text, messaging, Internet access and email.  At home I have two phones and a signal booster. My main phone uses Sprint’s cell phone service with a Samsung Epic 4G Android smart phone, the cell phone signal is weak at my home office and has a tendency to drop out. That is until I got the Wilson cell phone signal booster. Now all signal bars are up; you need a strong signal when talking with customers from home.

 I believe strongly in having a backup phone plan, so I own an inexpensive ($25.00 per year) Magic Jack with a small wired digital phone set. This phone uses the Internet for voice and connects to the USB port via the Magic Jack adapter on my computer.

  The Avaya phone system at work does a wonderful job of forwarding calls to my cell phone. Yea! I no longer have the need to give my cell phone number away. Also the professional appearance to clients is nice; they do not need to know I am working at home or from the road.

   I have all the Avaya phone system features by just dialing in and taking control of my telephone on my desk at the company office. I can check voicemail, forward messages, intercom employees, and create conference calls.

  Computers at the home office include a Lenovo laptop, wireless networking, 17 inch external display, full size external keyboard and mouse, amplified speakers, and a web cam. My back up computer is a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1. The 10.1 is not only the screen size but how many hours the battery will last.

   The home office uses Internet connectivity by Comcast Cable, and a Netgear wireless router. The Epson 810 printer includes color, black & white printing, scanning, faxing, and copying. The printer is also wireless and you can be working anywhere in my place and get Internet connectivity and be able to print. Visitors may also connect to the Internet and print with permission.

   My company office has the exact computer (laptop) setup with one exception. The laptop at the company office uses Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate version. This version is required to access our company office’s servers.

   The main office uses Internet connectivity by Verizon, a router; a Linux based firewall and has two intelligent switches to connect our employees. The main office also has an Epson printer, one of those all-in–one printers that do everything easier through special automatic feeders and prints faster with its bigger engine. The main office has an extensive cabling plant so almost all the computers and printers are connected by cables.

  Our operating systems are all Microsoft Windows 7 with a couple of the older Windows XP hold outs. We have one Intel “tower type” computer running a version of the Linux operating system. Our servers use Microsoft Server 2003 for VPN CONNECTIVITY, data storage, serving applications, centralized administration, and security.

  So finally we get to the best part of why we connect remotely from the home office / the road to the main office, our host. The best part is our applications, programs like Project Management, Service request & work order management, Customer Contact managers, and QuickBooks accounting. These programs are served to us by our main computers; the servers. All of our data is stored here including Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets, databases, and email to name a few.

  The “Cloud” (Internet based resources) are readily available. BlueFolder (Qwest) one of our Information Management tools is accessed only through the Internet and next year we add on Microsoft Office 365 to our list of programs that are available anytime, from anywhere, and from almost any device; smart phones, tablets and computers.

   Our web site server and email server are additional “Cloud” resources provided by Inforest Communications and Pair Networks.

The Home Office / Road Warrior set up may appear complicated. But if the installation is well thought out and installed properly then learning how to use it will be a lot easier that you ever thought possible. You probably already have most of the components you need. Not sure give us a call and we will come out and take a look.

Cyber Security Protect our computers

 

Cyber Security

Protection from Unauthorized Computer Access

Congress has recognized the need and is working on solutions to take the measures needed to protect our computers and the Internet against unauthorized access or attacks.

At stake is our ability to safely shop, conduct business and communicate with others.

We need to work together to fight threats. The responsibility needs to be shared and requires everyone to help out – from government and law enforcement to all businesses and most importantly, civilians, that’s right you and me. Nobody, no country, no type of business or individual is immune to unauthorized computer access and the related risks. The Department of Homeland Security plays the key role in this effort, protecting government networks and helping owners and operators of critical infrastructure to secure the networks we all depend on.

Congress has a tough challenge to write the bills necessary to bring all of us together to protect our country, to protect our businesses and ourselves from unauthorized computer access attacks.

Here are some the issues and difficulties congress is having creating legislation and bringing us together;

1.       How do you collect the information to enforce cyber security laws without creating a surveillance system that violates our privacy? The information that’s needed must be defined carefully for cyber security reasons and purposes only.

2.       What is the best way to work together? Information is power. Beware of who controls the access. On one side, civilian control includes accountability to the public for abuse or failure. On the other side is the secretive nature and necessity of military control.

3.       The Department of Homeland Security takes the lead in deciding how cyber security information will be distributed or assigned. DHS’s role to help coordinate civilian and government protection efforts needs to be clearly defined.

4.       What is the best way to authorize Internet Service Providers and other companies to monitor the computer and information systems they own and operate? Monitoring needs to be defined very specifically with clear limitations.

  Some of the bills underway in congress may authorize access for companies to monitor their customers are currently suggesting broad definitions such as “any actions” that result in unauthorized access and theft or manipulation of data.

 “Any actions” might include things that are done by honest computer operator mistakes or even by everyday good practices. Examples that might raise a flag under a broad definition are; sharing a link to a file sharing site, forwarding an email or sharing your Gmail password.

5.       How will the bills in congress work with the new Federal Communications Commission Order that adopts "basic rules of the road to preserve the open Internet as a platform for innovation, investment, competition, and free expression”?  Net neutrality” has finally arrived but will it last? Congress will be challenged again to clearly define cyber security and not be vague when it comes to the rules of the road.

6.       What happens to your home if your young computer savvy family member violates some company’s Terms of Service that you may not of known even existed? As congress decides on increasing the penalties (maybe even seizing your home) for the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, an anti-hacking statute, shouldn’t they make absolutely sure the violations actually resulted in hacking? We all need to get this right the first time.

7.       We have the need to narrowly, exactly, specifically DEFINE cyber security information to protect us from unauthorized computer access and not for any other use.

Legislation in progress; Lungren bill H.R. 3674, Lieberman bill S. 2105, McCain bill S. 2151, and the Rogers bill H.R. 3523

Remember January 18th, 2012 was a big day for the Web. Americans stood up in opposition to PIPA and SOPA – bills that would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on U.S. businesses. Many of your favorite web sites went dark, Americans made thousands of phone calls to our elected representatives in Washington, and raised your voice by petitioning Congress.

Congress needs civilian, government and military to work together. Let’s help Congress create a solution to protect unauthorized use of our computers, Cyber Security is a necessity.

What are the right tools for computer repair?

What are the tools for repairing computers? Computer repair starts with the right tools.

Computer fixers have the education and experience to determine which tools are needed to fix your computer. The right tool combined with experience and knowledge allows computer fixers everywhere to fix just about any computer.

Maybe even you can be “The Computer Fixer”?

Let’s start with some hardware tools;

Screwdriver Computer Tool Kit – assortments from 7 to 15 pieces usually cover most repairs – the tool bag recommended by Professor Messer http://www.professormesser.com/free-a-plus-training/220-702/the-a-toolbag/

Digital multi-meter


Network cable tester – is a two-piece tester that includes a main unit and remote with test results at both ends. This unit provides testing (PASS/FAIL or fault find) for various network cables.

PSU Tester – an automated power supply tester that enables users to easily and quickly determine if a power supply is defective or not

Various network components; Crossover adaptor, ADSL adapter, patch cables

Nylon tools for prying  (for laptop cases, External hard disk drive cases)

USB flash drives consisting of… (Also have them on CD/DVD for older system’s) software repair tools, imaging, and utilities

Software tools; there are so many good tools available, some are free and some you pay for, sometimes the best are free. Listed here are some of computer fixers’ favorites.

Hiren’s BootCD www.hiren.info/pages/bootcd

Seatools www.seagate.com › SupportDownloads

Memtest www.memtest.org/

AVG/AVIRA/AVAST forums.cnet.com/7723-6132_102-284162/avg-vs-avira-vs-avast/    www.free.avg.com/

Ontrak Data Recovery software    www.krollontrack.com/data-recovery/

MSconfig Microsoft System Configuration Utility

Microsoft Security Essentials   windows.microsoft.com/mse

Piriform – Authors of the hugely popular software CCleaner, Defraggler, Recuva and Speccy.   www.piriform.com/

 

SUPERAntispyware PRO   www.superantispyware.com

 

 

Computer fixers like to stay with what works.  Here is some feedback from one of our technicians;

I couldn’t live without my heavily customized UBCD4WIN bootable cd! Look to www.ubcd4win.com. Though it’s been two years since the last big update was done – it doesn’t matter – what counts is how you can do your own updates – and keep it up to date.

DRPSU (installs/upates drivers on windows pc’s)
Hirens (loaded with computer repair tool’s)
Clonezilla (for creating images of a system, similar to ghost)
WPI (to install software on a computer eg after a reformat)
HDT (tell’s you what hardware, serial numbers etc)
Ubuntu MRT (ubuntu specifically geared up for malware removal on windows systems)
Wsus offline (loaded with window’s updates, MSSE etc)
Parted magic (for partitioning hard disk’s)

Seminar Transform your Sales Culture

Gene Marks asked to share this opportunity with all of you. I could not think of a better way to boost sales or spend some of my Friday time. This is really good stuff!    Chris, Owner of The Computer Fixer

Hi Chris,
Not sure if you’re interested in this seminar or if you could at least pass on the word to any clients that might be?

National sales expert Todd Cohen and I are going to spend Friday morning in Philadelphia talking about getting leads, closing deals and building a sales culture. And technology.

It’s called Transform Your Sales Culture and some of the topics we’ll cover are:
-How to generate greater impact from your sales incentive and compensation plans.
-How to plan for and create a sales culture and not just a sales team!
-How to convert your current CRM system from a “glorified rolodex” to a productive sales and marketing system.
-Which emerging sales and marketing technologies you should consider this year.

I’d love to see you – hope you find this of interest.  Here’s the link:

http://www.marksgroup.net/event.transform.html

Regards,
Gene Marks CPA
The Marks Group PC
888-224-0649 x801
===========
Helping our clients become quicker, better and wiser
….with the best Customer Relationship Management processes and technologies available.

My New York Times column: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/author/gene-marks/
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Other Columns, Books, Appearances:  www.quickerbetterwiser.com
Or…follow me:  www.twitter.com/genemarks