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Should You Upgrade Your Customers' Firmware?

Manufacturers release firmware updates to improve product functionality and security. They address bugs and limitations, making their devices more reliable for users. Said fixes sometimes apply to only certain environments, meaning not every update matters.

As a service provider, you must determine when new firmware affects your customers. Unless the update proves to be beneficial, it might not call for action. Nevertheless, it is important to investigate each new release in case customers update on their own.

Checking Firmware Compatibility

Most firmware updates introduce minor changes—not enough to break compatibility with your solution. But, in some cases, a new release can cause erratic behaviour. Identifying and correcting these problems when a release first rolls out is critical. If you cannot do so timely, you must reach out to your customers and delay them from updating. Staying vigilant in such a way is important to successful customer support.

Notifying Customers of a Firmware Update

Depending on your customer base, the mention of firmware might confuse or worry your users. If you can provision the devices remotely, then rollback or roll out new firmware without customer intervention. Otherwise explain the specifications of the firmware thoroughly as well as how to install it. If you fail in either respect, you will increase your support load exponentially.

Not every customer will use the device in question. Communicating with only affected customers can avoid much of the aforesaid confusion. To reach out, you should send an email with all pertinent details enclosed. Most importantly, include links to published materials on your website and the manufacturer’s.

Even for irrelevant firmware updates, there is an argument for keeping customers informed. Should a user hear of this update elsewhere, he or she might install it independently. If the individual downloads the wrong firmware (different device model or third-party publisher), they risk bricking—the total loss of device function. Thus, providing links to firmware files and step-by-step instructions on successful installations is a trait of preventive customer service.