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The Abandoning of Home Support

“We don’t support residences.”

A shack with a broken glass window

If you’re a residential IT customer and haven’t heard that, you will in coming years. An increasing number of IT support providers have ceased servicing home-based customers. Here’s why:

– Apple Store and the Geek Squad. They’ve helped drive the actual cost and the perceived cost of these services down to close to zero. Or $99/year. Far below what most IT pros have traditionally charged. Even if you “get what you pay for” people prefer to pay less.

– Google. If you can “just Google it” then you might feel less inclined to pay someone else to do the same thing. Your perception of the provider’s value will be diminished even if they are WAY better at using Google.

– You blame them, either fairly or unfairly. Sometimes it’s not working and you didn’t heed their advice. Or they did’t explain it clearly. Or it is their fault and you might just be miserable to work for.

– You don’t pay, or you pay just what you “feel it should cost” – rarely does this happen with corporate clients. Doctors don’t get paid only on the 3rd surgery to correct your knee. They get paid on every surgery.

– It’s not much revenue for them. It’s usually by the hour, and you probably only want help when you need it, not regularly.

– Expectations – you probably want them to remember exactly how you like things working, even though they haven’t been there for months.

– Yelp. A plumber is in control of most of the equipment they are repairing. Software, hardware and WiFi connections are much more finicky. Guess who will get blamed if anything doesn’t work well? Your support firm. Those reviews may not be worth the revenue.

– You aren’t listening. They told you to back up the computer. You decided against it. Now you’re upset and blaming the poor guy or gal that’s just trying to get home to take their dog for a much-needed walk. This increases job burn-out, and what employer wants to risk losing a great person over something so trivial?

– “It’s never really worked right” – a very common complaint by residential customers. This stems from a lack of agreement between you and the provider about how “fixed” something is. Your wireless printer is now not printing again for a bunch of reasons, but not always because the support person did a “sloppy” job.

– Support providers can’t grow their business as easily sending one person to your home, when they can help 30 people in the same “truck roll” to a location.

Who will serve you if the good providers flee? Larger brands that try to help people on a national or regional level often damage the brand interaction (Comcast, anyone?) – and the “tier 1” support people are in a high-churn role so they are often finding their way – the superstars get promoted fast and out of the front lines. Or they save money and outsource the front lines to another country, causing anxiety for many.

Instead, try to get a great firm to help you. The way you’ll do this is to play by their rules. Ask them “what do I need to do to be a great customer for you?” – now LISTEN and invest where they tell you to invest. If they are gouging and making people overpay, their reputation will catch up with them. If you ask a vendor to cut corners, you’re ultimately going to suffer, either by you being frustrated with them, or the reverse. Or they may go out of business and you’ll have to start all over.

And whatever you do, first turn if off and back on again, see if that helps.

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