I would have preferred to be in denial that my laptop was in distress. But from experience I knew that I better find a remote service to diagnose the problem (and maybe even fix it) before the whole thing went kaput. When that happens the remote elves can't connect with you.
But I was in total angst about which remote service to contact. Colleagues had bad-mouthed X and Y service for shoddy quality and A and B for high price. What I wound up doing was checking the media and customer reviews.
Something in The Wall Street Journal review caught my eye. One service - Boxaid - didn't even talk price before one of its tech folks did a diagnosis. Its philosophy was that first it wanted to figure out, at no cost to you, if it could help.
Sounded unusual, I thought. I punched in 800-999-6872 on my iPhone. Jonathan, who told me that's his real name, answered. I described the peculiar ways the laptop had been acting and my fear that, well, it was dying.
Jonathan asked for 20 to 25 mintues to check what was going on. Then he would call me. Did he want my credit card number? No, of course not, not yet. In fact, not until we had agreed that any work he had done was performed to my satisfaction.
Ring. Ring. It could have been worse. The fee was going to be under $90. And everything would be back to normal within about two hours.
Throughout the remote repair process, Jonathan briefed me what had gone wrong and how he was preventing that from occurring again in the future. Should I have any trouble, though, he gave me his direct line.
Shocking. Here am I a free agent in a home office being treated as if I were head of purchasing for computer repair services at Bank of America or Conde Nast. And all for under 90 bucks.
Harvard Business School should do a case study on this kind of customer service.