When you supply customers with hardware, many will come to you for technical assistance. Configuring devices should fall within the realm of your support; however, malfunctions in the hardware will likely exceed the training of your staff. In such cases, your staff will need to escalate the issue and direct customers to another support channel. For serious problems, the warranty often comes into play.
To help customers understand the scope of your in-house support, explain the warranties that come with their devices. Warranty documentation is sometimes hard to read and laden with jargon, so translating that information will enhance your customer's confidence in your support. More importantly, doing so will ensure that customers see the difference between a service provider and manufacturer. This distinction will prevent your support department from getting bogged down with irrelevant help requests.
Most devices that you give to your customers come with two levels of quality assurance.
Software—bugs in the firmware, user interface and accompanying device management programs;
Hardware—onboard defects that render the device dysfunctional.
Rarely will a warranty cover everything, so you should outline which components apply. As well, the cause of the issue affects if the manufacturer deems the complaint valid, so warn against practices that may void the warranty. For example, installing third-party firmware or inflicting damage (even accidental) onto the device.
Most software warranties encompass regular updating and patching. When such things do not suffice, they may also cover reformatting. Likewise, hardware warranties call for repairs. Depending on the contract, shipping fees may or may not be refundable. Such details are important to highlight, too.
Most warranties span one year. Some manufacturers offer extended warranty programs, but these must be purchased within the first month. After a warranty expires, the manufacturer will still support defects and damages, but they will no longer eat the bill. Thus, always check the validity of your customer’s warranty before recommending action.
Even when an issue falls outside the scope of your support, you should still remain at your customer’s disposal. In the least, facilitate the conversation with the manufacturer by:
Identifying the appropriate departments to contact;
Providing all necessary forms and instructing your customers where to find requested information (i.e. model number);
Recommending temporary solutions to prevent downtime and/or frustration.
Customers will understand when matters are not within your control, but they will also appreciate your expertise in getting their issues resolved through other channels.