Any computer or device can fail; it’s never planned and it’s not pleasant for the user – but how the vendor deals with the problem can make all the difference.

Lenovo strives to make its products as failsafe as possible, with strict quality control and testing taking place at the factory. And, if things go wrong, there is an extensive infrastructure standing by to get the user operational again as quickly as possible.

Anna Waite heads up support at Lenovo, with responsibility for South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Her operation delivers the warranty support for any Lenovo branded laptop, desktop and mobile device. Sold by the PC and mobile groups within the company.

Lenovo’s commercial products carry a generous three-year on-site repair warranty, while the consumer products are warrantied for one year, on a carry-in basis.

Customers also have the option to extend the duration of the warranty, and they can also upgrade it to include things like accidental damage, spills and more.

If things go wrong with any Lenovo PC or mobile product, the customers first port of call is the contact centre. Two different contact centres look after consumer and commercial product lines.

“Sometimes the problem could be caused by a BIOS or a missing upgrade and we can fix the problem right away when the customer calls,” Waite says.

“If the call centre can’t help the customer, they can usually determine what the problem is, and either dispatch an engineer for commercial customers or direct consumers to a repair centre.”

Lenovo’s standard factory warranty guarantees and next business day response, although actual repairs could take a couple of days depending on what the problem is, and whether parts are available.

For commercial products, three days is the expected turnaround and for consumer products it’s five days. Of course remote areas could take a little longer.

Waite stresses that every part of South Africa is covered in terms of support. ThinkPad products are supported by IBM’s extensive network, and all the other products are serviced through a countrywide network of support partners.

There are repair centres in all of the major South African cities: Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria.

Onsite repairs are guaranteed regardless of where the customer is – although it might take time to get an engineer there if it’s particularly remote, Waite cautions.

Consumers are able to simply walk into repair centres with their products. Those in remote locations can drop it with the retailer they bought it from and it will be couriered to the closest repair centre.

Within SADC, partners deliver support on Lenovo’s behalf, also bound by a series of strict KPIs. In some countries onsite support is offered, while in others it’s carry-in. “This is constantly evaluated and we increase the support structure depending on volumes and customer demand,” Waite explains.

Waite manages Lenovo’s relationship with IBM and the warranty partners, ensuring that they constantly live up to the strict key performance indicators (KPIs) that Lenovo insists on.

“The things that are important to us, and which we measure constantly, are first-time fix and the parts used to complete repairs,” Waite says. “Engineers need to make sure that the first-time diagnosis is correct and that only the affected parts are replaced.”

Lenovo also places a lot of focus on customer satisfaction. “We follow up when there are negative comments to understand what went wrong and try to turn any negative perceptions around,” Waite says.

“Although there is also a balance between helping our customers and the cost of a solution, we always strive to do the right thing. We are always fair and balance every complaint on a case by case basis.”

Lenovo typically performs well in customer satisfaction surveys, Waite adds.  “I think a lot of what differentiates us is the fact that we are a lot closer to our customers than some other vendors

“In addition, Lenovo has a very entrepreneurial and flexible culture, so we are empowered to make decisions locally, which helps us to execute a lot quicker.”

In the unusual event that repairs cannot be carried out by the support partners on the ground, they can be escalated to a regional team for level two technical support.

Unresolved complaints can also be escalated if they can’t be dealt with on a local level.

Problems can occur with any products, Waite explains. “All vendors use the same components so we are all at the same risk of failure. What matters to customers is how you deal with it; and that’s why Lenovo has a warranty that will cover you.”