Customer Support: What do PCB Designers Really Want?


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After a grueling month of research into the best medical insurance to invest in for 2018, we finally closed the deal back in December. I was therefore shocked to see new insurance cards arrive in the mail yesterday with a different plan name. As you can expect, I jumped on the phone and dialed my insurance company’s customer support. Fortunately, the woman talking to me was a consummate customer support professional, and took care of my questions right away. As it turns out, someone had messed up and sent out incorrect cards to pre-existing customers for some unexplainable reason. Happily, this whole problem ended up being nothing that my paper shredder couldn’t handle, and I was glad to emerge from this fresh hell so quickly.

My experience with the insurance company’s customer support department brought to mind some support experiences from my own past. For many years, I managed customer support for a PCB CAD software company, and I have seen my fair share of different support scenarios. Although some of my time with customers could be rightfully categorized as a nightmare experience, it was far more common for me to work with customers who were a pleasure to spend time with. Through it all, I have seen what customers want and what issues they complain about most in their PCB design software. Here are some of those items; perhaps you can identify with a few of these.

The Two Meanings of “How can I help you?”

First, let’s throw a leash around the elephant in the room and pull him out. That’s my not-too-subtle way of saying, “Here are some things that designers want, but we in the support business just can’t give it to them.”

The first one that comes to mind: Customers have asked, manipulated, and even tricked me in their attempts to get free software. Here’s the deal: When you buy software, you are entitled to receive what you bought, but not more. That doesn’t mean that the sales team might work out an arrangement with you, but as your support technician, I can’t do that. I can only help you with the software that you are licensed for. It’s sort of like buying a bunch of bananas while grocery shopping, and then insisting that the store should give you a couple of free apples too, because you are one of their best customers. It just isn’t going to happen.

To read this entire column, which appeared in the February 2018 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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