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Getac teams with FedEx TechConnect for faster, more efficient service

FedEx TechConnect to provide super-fast service and repair for Getac rugged computing equipment

by Conrad Blickenstorfer, pictures by Carol Cotton, September 2012

On September 26, 2012, Getac announced that from now on it will use FedEx TechConnect for service, repair and refurbishing of its rugged notebooks, tablets and handhelds. RuggedPCReview.com was given a presentation of the new arrangement and also a tour of the FedEx TechConnect facility in Memphis Tennessee. In this article we'll describe Getac's new way of providing service, and what it will mean to customers.

Why did Getac decide to do this? They already have a good service organization and differentiated themselves with their 5-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. But providing quality service and the rapid turnaround times requested by customers today is quite a challenge for an inhouse service operation. So FedEx, which has been servicing the hundreds of thousands of computers it owns and uses inhouse for several decades and is synonymous with overnight shipping, seems a natural to outsource service to.

What is FedEx TechConnect?

FedEx TechConnect grew out of the FedEx internal electronics repair organization. Tod Taylor, Managing Director of FedEx TechConnect, said that they have 30 years' worth of experience in servicing their own equipment (including over 75,000 handhelds, almost 250,000 customer site shipping devices, and over a million PCs and peripherals supported) where they perform almost half a million repairs every year and over 95% of all shipments are repaired the same day. Applying the same "speed, reliability, quality" credo guiding the company as a whole, FedEx's internal repair organization developed into a highly competent one-stop shop for electronics repairs with close connections to the various OEMs of their equipment. This worked so well that they decided to add a new business unit that would service external customer's equipment.

Why did they make the decision to offer TechConnect externally? Essentially because their research showed that after pricing, turn-around time of repairs and easy access to service and repair are most important to customers. They found that less than three days turnaround delights customers whereas five-plus days dissatisfies them. Fast, reliable shipping, of course, is what FedEx is all about, and combining experienced electronics repair service with FedEx shipping seemed like a very attractive combination to make available to external customers.

The goals of the emerging TechConnect business, however, go beyond just the mechanics of repairing and shipping. What TechConnect seeks to do is address "customer pain points," by a) offering enhanced coverage from Day One and not just once the standard warranty is over, b) offering true one-stop repair without handing customers off to OEMs, c) increase visibility throughout the repair cycle, d) offer superior turnaround with limited handoffs, and e) provide easy accessibility via 8,000 staffed drop-off locations in the US.

Here's how Getac and FedEx TechConnect believe this kind of end-to-end management benefits customers:

Typical Service Offer FedEx TechConnect Value to Customer
Who does the service? Not quite sure FedEx, a brand customers know and trust Reliability and peace of mind
Enhanced coverage from Day One? Nope; customers are sent to OEM during warranty period Enhanced service from Day One Quality service, always
Turnaround time Generally 5-15 days 2-3 days Speed
One-stop shop? Maybe; but likely with multiple hand-offs Yes; FedEx is the sole point of contact Visibility and transparency
Accessibility? Limited; typically shipped to some depot somewhere Yes; 8,000+ staffed drop-off locations Convenience

Raising the bar for rugged mobile services

David Krebs, Vice President, Mobile & Wireless Practice at VDC Research discussed the wisdom of raising the bar for rugged mobile services. He pointed out that 75% of the US workforce and half of Western Europe's workforce are expected to be mobile by 2013. Over half of all enterprises now support personally-owned mobile devices. There are a staggering four billion mobile phones in use, over a billion of which are smartphones. Mobile electronic devices have become a crucial part of mission critical workflows. Rugged devices are designed not to fail, but occasionally they do fail, and that affects customer service and productivity, and can directly lead to lost sales and revenue. This means that uptime must be maximized and broken devices must be placed back into service as quickly as possible.

Even after increasing penetration in recent years, Krebs described rugged mobile solutions as a massive market opportunity, and one with very substantial benefits in worker productivity, accuracy, timely decision making and increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. While rugged solutions cost more, Total Cost of Ownership is attractive enough to drive decisions, and Getac's broad product portfolio is well positioned to address emerging mobile opportunities. VDC sees the US rugged notebook, tablet and handheld market grow from the current US$2 billion to US$3 billion within the next four years.

That's a substantial opportunity, and the quality of tech support is among the top three mobile vendor selection criteria. Since tech support and repair services are generally considered important but not very good, superior tech and repair service represents a great opportunity for competitive differentiation. Timeliness of mobile maintenance services, in particular, is being ranked low in this industry, and having FedEx TechConnect could quite obviously deliver in that area.

Enhancing the customer experience

Getac US President Jim Rimay described the process a device goes through as it comes in for service, and the thought process that made Getac decide to partner with FedEx TechConnect. What Getac customers expect is fast, convenient and reliable service. Rimay felt that while their service, especially since the introduction of the 5 year bumper-to-bumper warranty in 2010, was above average, various timing logistics conspired to making it not as fast as it should have been. With devices shipped to their Irvine, Calif. service facility, waiting for shipments to arrive alone burned up most of the first day, leaving just four or five hours to unbox, assess and repair the product, often delaying completion to the next day or beyond.

When they looked at various potential service providers, Fedex TechConnect immediately seemed the perfect fit. With shipping and repairs handled within the same large company with multiple shifts, a full 19 hours are available the first day a package arrives, usually more than enough to complete repairs and return the device. Rimay also mentioned the sophisticated FedEx repair tracking system that allows customers to continuously monitor the status of their device(s). He also emphasized that only Getac-trained and certified technical staff will work on Getac devices at FedEx TechConnect.

Just like FedEx offers different delivery options, Getac will offer three levels of care under the new TechConnect repair service. The Priority Care uses FedEx Express Overnight shipping and the repair turn around target is one day. The Express Care Plan uses FedEx Express 2Day and the repair turn around target is two days. The Standard Care Plan, which is included in the warranty, uses FedEx Ground and the repair turn around target is three days.

Derek Suzuki, Getac's Director of Customer Services, then demonstrated the new Getac Customer Portal where customers could log in, describe the problem, attach files or pictures, then print a FedEx label for pickup or drop-off.

The FedEx TechConnect facility in Memphis

Customers generally don't know what the repair facilities they entrust their devices to look like. We do, thanks to a tour of the FedEx TechConnect facility in Collierville, Tennessee, just minutes away from the FedEx worldwide super hub. The facility is massive and as high-tech as it gets.

One part consists of the arrival and sorting facility where arriving packages are identified, then sorted by customer type, commodity type, and even run through a cleaning machine. Depending on the type of device and the damage reported, equipment may then run through extensive diagnostics programs.

Once that is done, devices are assigned to a technician and routed to the proper repair bench within the special Getac area of the facility. There's an RF sorting system with numerous sensors. Pertinent information is always just a scan away.

FedEx TechConnect does board level repairs that can speed up and economize the repair process while reducing e-waste at the same time. The number, sophistication and variety of diagnostics and repair tools and equipment is staggering to the layperson.

Getac also has its own locked parts area that stocks whatever is needed to repair every device in Getac's product lineup, past and present. There is nothing that cannot be repaired or refurbished here, in record time.

Relevant websites
Getac TechConnect Service Portal
About FedEx TechConnect
Getac facts
Getac, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Getac Technology Corporation, which itself is a key subsidiary of MiTAC-Synnex Business Group that had 2011 consolidated revenue US$25.3 billion. Getac Technology Corporation was established in 1989 as a joint venture with GE Aerospace to supply defense electronic products. Today, Getac's business includes rugged notebooks, rugged tablet PCs and rugged handheld devices for military, police, government, communications, manufacturing and transportation applications ranging from fully rugged and commercial-grade rugged. Apart from the rugged computing business, Getac is also involved with the design and manufacture of plastic and lightweight metal components. In fact, the acquisition of Waffer Technology in 2009 made Getac the world's third-largest aluminum-magnesium alloy producer.

FedEx TechConnect
FedEx TechConnect is a subsidiary of FedEx Corporate Services, Inc. and offers technology repair, refurbishment, transportation and logistics services to technology manufacturers and enterprises. Its mission is to align customer contact centers, worldwide revenue operations, claims, trace and package engineering within FedEx's professional services company. TechConnect provides a superior and truly unique customer experience through outstanding customer, revenue, information and repair services.