Tech Support by the Minute
If you’re having computer problems, who do you call for tech support? Taking your computer in for repair can cost $50 or more. And that’s just for a consultation. If you want them to come to your home the fee goes higher.
On the other hand, one entrepreneur has found an alternative to traditional tech support. His company allows you to pay only for the time he spends helping you, whether it is 5 minutes or an hour.
A New Kind of Tech Support
This entrepreneur started his tech support company as an alternative to fixed-rate services that overcharge customers who only need simple solutions. During his career in the industry he recognized a trend among some customers who felt like they just weren’t getting the service they had hoped for. Thinking about those dissatisfied customers inspired him, and his business was born. We talked with him recently to find out more.
Amazing Support is another reputable company that offers a similar level of support.
Tell us a little about your business.
We are an online computer tech support service provider. We provide one-call, one-shop tech support solutions, fixing computer-related problems for consumers and small-business owners. Providing service mainly over the phone, we use chat and remote login methods, depending on what the customer needs.
What inspired you to launch this business?
Well, I worked as a manufacturing specialist for over 25 years. I was a specialist trouble shooter and solved many-faceted technical problems. I worked as specialist consultant to a number of World Bank-funded industries, too.
Due to a special request from an American friend, I switched to the IT\ITES sector during 1998. I set up and managed her software company, which did geospatial design work. Since then, I have been involved in many other businesses as well. For instance, AOL, K2 Soft and others, where I managed tech support divisions.
During my tenure with these companies, I observed that there were many customers who felt neglected, unhappy and helpless. That’s because they experienced difficulty reaching the support they needed. Because of the restrictive policies of these corporations, customers were not getting solutions to their problems. Instead, customers were being tossed between different vendors without getting much help. There was a pass-the-buck attitude in the support centers.
This situation inspired me to come up with an idea to set up my own service. I wanted to do justice to customers and provide one-stop support for all issues by owning responsibility.
How did you come up with your pay-by-the-minute model?
I know from experience that regular computer users face problems that vary in complexity. I also know that computer-related products are becoming more and more difficult for an average user. They face problems from very simple ones to complicated ones.
Most service/support providers were charging fixed charges either on per-incidence or flat rate, immaterial of the type of problem. I felt this method of charging was more taxing on the common user, most of whom encounter fairly simple problems.
Some problems require just few minutes to solve, while some problems require 30 or more minutes to solve. It just doesn’t seem reasonable to me that a provider charges a flat rate to the customer who has a simple problem. Yes, we need to make a profit, but we certainly should not try to loot an innocent customer.
This inspired me to come up with a solution. I intend to provide a service whereby we charge only for the minutes used in solving the problem. This will reduce the economic burden on the customer.
How much does it cost for the average support call?
Our experience and statistics show that the average support call is around 20 minutes. Using our rates, this gives the average support call a cost of $38.
What separates you from your competition?
As mentioned earlier, we work on a very low margin, thus providing maximum savings to the customer.
We base our prices on the actual number of minutes for the service call. Moreover, we don’t start billing until the customer connects with our experts. The customer gets free minutes for the duration it takes us to put through the call, process payment and provide a free estimate.
Apart from this, the customer can use the balance of any unused minutes for which he or she has paid anytime within a year. This is a unique service.
The most important benefit a customer gets from us is that we have chosen our experts very carefully. They all have a built-in problem-solving attitude. All have been trained to take ownership for resolving customers’ problems and to work with them to provide the best solutions. We do this without considering the vendors or makers of the problematic software or hardware. Our aim is to provide all solutions under one roof.
The other unique feature with our techs is that they are constantly learning and improving their skills. This enables them to avoid the common practice in other support centers of going strictly by the manual. We are different. We think outside of the box and fix problems by using our knowledge and experience.
As a result, our customers get the best service for the money, and they also save a great deal in these tough times.
In your opinion, what should people look for when they shop around for a support service like yours?
Customers want quick access, the best price, reliable quality, and great service. They should always look for these qualities in any service provider.
Do you have any goals you hope to accomplish over the next year or so?
It saddens me that customers are still unable to get what they really want. This is despite the fact that there are many good service providers out there who could fulfill their needs. However, these two groups are unable to reach out to other because of the huge wall created by corporate marketing. This wall makes it difficult for customers to know that they could get better service by going to small-scale service providers like us. We’re simply unable to spend huge amounts towards marketing like the big corporations do, so that we can reach out to customers. This is a situation that puts both consumers and small service providers at a disadvantage.
Therefore, our main goal now is to find an effective and economical way to reach out to consumers. Our intention is to find methods to communicate with and reassure customers that we and other like-minded service providers do exist.
What are some lessons you have learned in your business?
It is marketing which ultimately determines a business’s success or failure. The current situation is that the more money a business spends (which they eventually collect by charging more to the customer) the more likely it will be to stay afloat. We are determined to change that.
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs who are just getting started?
We have been providing our service for over a decade as a contractor, marketing our own services. However, our new business is only a couple of years old. Our model and methods are still in the testing stages. Therefore, we don’t feel ready to give anyone advice at this point.
We would like to say, though, that we strongly believe that a country can measure its economic success by how well small- and medium-sized businesses are doing.