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Our Moderately Sized Data analytics engine pooh-poohs Acer '30 second support' claims

Time slows down in UK call centre: warp anomaly, maybe?

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Biz customers with broken Acer kit might want to sling a call into the technical centre: then put on the kettle and make a cuppa, because they could be on hold for a lot longer than they were expecting.

Certainly longer than the half a minute average response time that Jakob Jersild Olsen, veep at Acer's commercial division EMEA, has told The Channel would be the case.

"If you call that Acer hotline today, and say I have a problem with my product the average wait time is 31 seconds," the one-time global veep for emerging markets at HP told us confidently last autumn.

"If you look at our spare parts availability, and this is what corporate or SMB customers care about - do you pick up the phone, can you fix my product? - 31 seconds is strong".

El Chan took the man up on his challenge, calling the support number more than a dozen times over the past four months. According to our in-house Big (well, medium) Data analytics we experienced a mean holding time of two minutes.

So it could be worse - so much worse, as our readers will no doubt be able to attest - but it could also be better, as the average was four times longer than Olsen forecast.

Sales to biz customers make up 20 per cent of Acer's EMEA turnover and with consumer demand still stuck in a U-bend it plans to boost this to 35 per cent.

"But this isn't a sprint, we won't get there is six months".

SME is the target market, and education is the core industry sector - the only worldwide vertical Acer has, according to Olsen.

The firm also has around 400 authorised service providers - third party maintainers - to cover areas where Acer feels its own support capability needs fattening up.

It has 99 per cent spare parts availability across Europe via 30 regional centres including one in the UK, and has nine repair centres and eleven contract centres, according to Olsen.

"We are one of the few vendors in the industry which provides such an extensive service offering and are improving our offering with extended service hours, chat, telephone and email support," he told us today.

Acer stated that the average wait time in its own experience is definitely 31 seconds not 120, and that it had won awards for service and support at the end of 2013 in France, Netherlands, Germany and Spain: but not in the UK.

Specific business systems were released to market last year and more are in the pipeline as Acer seeks to overturn market perceptions that it is a maker of low-cost consumer notebooks.

There are circa 4k channel partners in the Synergy programme and Acer "simplified" engagement in January by moving to a single page contract with a less complex rebate structure.

"We focused very much on front-end rebates and back end rebates and sometimes its a bit too complex for our partners," said Olsen.

The man said he told partners that from this year, "if you do this number I will give you this [rebate]".

The "goal" for the organisation in 2014 is to make "it easier for our partners to work with Acer by improving transparency of pricing, financial benefits and inventory levels".

Clearing inventory mountains cost Acer millions in 2011 and again in 2013. Strengthening controls to react more quickly to rises and falls in demand is something the business has worked on in recent years.

Olsen told us that it last year offered 50 per cent cash back on TravelMate commercial notebooks that fail in the first year of life under the Proud initiative.

"We extended the offer to last until June and are planning to expand the offer to cover more products," he told The Channel.

One improvement Acer could make - that we don't think it has considered - is changing the hold music at its support centre, which was a musical assault on the ears, a mixture of Seinfeld and Frasier.

Perhaps something like Time Is On My Side would be suitable? ®

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