From the latest Intel i7 powered laptop, to the 4G smartphone with wifi hotspot in your pocket, to the newest crop of slates hitting the market, there can be no doubt that the consumer tech market is booming. Warranty service covers us when these devices fail, but where do we go to get help just making them work the way we want? Most of us just want the technology work for us - enable us to surf the web, check our email, synch MP3 files, connect with friends on our social networks. Who has time to debug a slow PC, or recover from a nasty virus without resorting to wiping out all our data and reloading? Sure, there are hundreds of support articles, automated "fix it" tools, and the collective experience of support forums to draw upon, but sometimes we have an issue that is not a warranty issue and we just want to get it fixed right now. What to do? I caught up with Dan Harmon, Director of Product Management for Lenovo Worldwide Services, to get his perspective on Lenovo’s new PremiumCare Support Services- A new consumer and small business oriented service offering that caters to those who don’t have the IT expertise, staff, or time to deal with the hassles and headaches of PC problems.
Mark: How would you characterize LenovoCare Premium Support?
Dan: The heart of Premium Support is people helping people. Our Premium Support technicians live in the world of technology, so they're experts at wading through technical complexity and resolving issues quickly. They're there to help you solve problems quickly and conveniently, which saves you time and headaches.
Mark: Ok, let's talk about product coverage. Are these services available for customers who have essential / value series systems like a G550 laptop or C200 desktop, or are they only for the IdeaPad and IdeaCentre laptops and desktops? How about Think systems?
Dan: Premium Support services are designed for individual consumers and very small businesses that need technical help that isn't available to them through a corporate IT department. There are limits to which SW and HW products that we support. For example, we focus on PC's instead of telephones, and Microsoft instead of Linux . Details are outlined in the supported products list online - but chances are that if you have an issue related to your home PC technology, we can help, regardless of the brand or model.
Mark: So is this for customers who need help beyond the scope of warranty support?
Dan: We have found that many customers need help with issues beyond warranty support. Their PCs are working just fine, but they are having challenges with software or network connectivity or viruses, etc. That's when Premium Support comes in.
Mark: This sounds like a niche that others may be trying to fill. How do these services differ from the typical dial-a-geek services, or those offered by some of the big box electronic and office supply outlets?
Dan: The services we offer are actually very similar in scope to many of those dial-a-geek type services. The advantage of Premium Support is in the expertise we provide on PC technology, and the convenient service delivery experience from the comfort of your home. Instead of driving across town to a store, only to wait in line and then speak to someone whose expertise is really installing HDTVs, you simply call Premium Support and in many cases we can access your system remotely and resolve the issue for you.
Mark: I've had a few tech support issues in the past that Premium Support could have helped me with. I can’t predict when those issues will occur, and I wouldn't want to pay for every issue separately. Does Premium Support provide coverage against future issues or is it just for when I have a specific problem?
Dan: There are a variety of Premium Support services that will address specific issues you might need help with. We also offer an Annual Subscription package that covers the entire scope of Premium Support services for a whole year - say if you need help setting up your printer today, but expect to need help removing a Virus or improving PC or Internet performance later on. It's simply a more economical and convenient way to make sure you have the expert technical help you need when problems do occur down the line.
Mark: What countries is this available in now? How do you see this expanding?
Dan: Right now Premium Support is available in the US and Canada, and we have plans to expand into Europe and Asia Pacific as our Consumer business continues to grow in those regions. Mark: Which services are in the highest demand? Are you seeing more people needing help moving to Windows 7, or sorting out security keys and getting connected to their new wireless router at home, or is it more of the virus / malware removal scenarios? I tell you, my brother-in-law had some nasty malware infect his computer over the holidays - it disconnected his computer from the Internet, hid the Windows start menu and even his desktop. It was one of those fake antivirus programs that tried to get him to pay a registration fee to activate, when it was actually the virus itself. We spent a while searching Antivirus forums and reading what other people did on my laptop, and I was able to print out some instructions and make a bootable USB key, and when he went home he got it sorted out, but called back in less than a week with another virus. Not everyone wants to spend time dealing with this kind of stuff - they just want it gone, right?
Dan: That is a great example, Mark. You and I have technical training and work in technology, and yet we still may end up spending a whole Saturday troubleshooting a problem only to have it reoccur later. Imagine if your mother were trying to solve the issue herself. One of the key benefits of Premium Support is that you can save yourself a lot of time and headaches by having an expert intuitively know what to do and then fix it right the first time.
Mark: Suppose you aren't sure if there is anything wrong with your PC, but maybe it's just running a bit slow. I know there is a service for that, but suppose I'm not ready to invest in having someone to check it out. What about this free PC Checkup applet I see on the website ? What exactly does it do?
Dan: That's right. Whether your PC is running slow or it's just not behaving the way you expect it to, PC Checkup is a great place to start. PC Checkup is a free SW tool we developed to perform a one-time, 180 point scan of your PC to give you a high-level snapshot of your PC's performance, and also recommend some possible courses of action to fix the problems. That includes fixing some of the issues for FREE. PC
Checkup is available at www.lenovo.com/premiumsupport/index.htmso check it out.