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How to Handle a Customer Whose Support Contract Has Run Out

How to Handle a Customer Whose Support Contract Has Run Out

by Stephanie Faris on Monday, August 15 6:00

For today s businesses, customer support goes beyond helping with product returns or service appointments. Tech support is an important part of creating long-term customer relationships, whether you re selling software or another type of product. With the Internet of Things bringing technology to even more everyday products, businesses will find tech support crucial.

But without a warranty, customers can keep calling for free assistance for years. For that reason, many businesses now provide a basic warranty for a few months or a year, followed by an additional charge for extended service. However, when a customer calls beyond that initial free period, businesses often find themselves in a challenging position. They want to be polite and keep those customer relationships strong without giving away their services. Here are a few things your business can do if someone calls for help after a support contract expires.

Explain at the Start

From the moment you sell the product, make clear the warranty options, as well as what they cover. Have customers sign or initial that they decline to purchase the extended warranty and understand they re only covered for one year. When the warranty expiration date expires, send a letter or email notifying customers that support is ending, complete with a link for them to purchase an extended warranty if they choose. All of these won t completely eliminate out-of-warranty support calls, but you ll at least reduce them somewhat.

Make Warranty Extension Easy

From the start, it should be easy for customers to purchase an extended warranty, preferably through a link you can share in email. When an out-of-warranty customer calls for assistance, your representatives should be able to accept payment over the phone to extend warranties on the spot. This will likely prove to be one of the biggest sources of warranty purchases for your company. You could also consider offering a discount as an option to customers who have spent over a certain amount or bought from your company over the course of many years.

Offer Small Per-Incident Fee

Some customers won t want to purchase a warranty, even when they need help. For those customers, a small one-time fee may be a better option. This could be a per-minute fee or a flat charge for the call, but make sure you re covered if resolving the issue becomes more complicated than expected. If the customer still refuses to pay, unfortunately you ll have to say a polite no. If you agree to provide assistance free of charge, you will be setting a dangerous precedent for this customer and future buyers who are referred to you.

Good customer service is important, but for help desks, it s also important to push back when customers are asking for free help. By setting up a way to charge customers who haven t purchased an extended warranty, your service desk teams will be able to provide assistance without giving the work away. However, it s important to realize that there will be some customers who refuse to pay and continue to ask for free help. When that happens, your teams should be trained to stand their ground rather than giving in. This will help you avoid weakening the value of the warranties you sell.

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