I can’t believe I’m writing another post about these folks, who develop good but fussy to install, software—then drag their product down by providing truly horrific customer service. However, based on the service I experienced this week, they’re on a flat learning curve. They still don’t get it.
Here’s last year’s version. Seeking a web-based replacement for Microsoft’s VPN-based Remote Desktop, I purchased Laplink, which supposedly would fill the bill. Unfortunately, I never got to find out whether it would or wouldn’t. When I installed it first on my laptop and then on my workstation, my newly constructed Laplink Internet network (the linkage between remote laptop and host work station) couldn’t find my workstation. So I called tech support for help, supposedly. I must have gone through everyone on the support staff with no results, taking up about a day-and-a-half of accumulated time (I was not only desperate for a solution, but I’m stubborn).
Finally, after perhaps an hour of futility with the last rep I talked to, he asked if I used static IP addresses, which for several reasons I did at the time. But which, as he finally informed me, renders the application useless because you can’t register more than one fixed IP computer on your Laplink Internet network. Great, you’re on the road, you fire up Laplink, and now you can remote control over the Internet the laptop sitting in front of you.
Hey, it only took three or four days of tech support trying this, that and the other thing—often three or four times—before that dim light bulb finally lit. Like they’ve never encountered this problem before? Static IP addresses aren’t uncommon. And for icing on the cake, nowhere—not on their website or the product packaging—did they mention that the remote control and remote file transfer functionality, the reasons most people buy the product, only work with dynamic IPs. Pretty sleazy to me. Sleazy enough that I demanded a refund, which they grudgingly issued three or four months later.
Now, here’s this year’s version. In the interim, I finally did switch from Remote Desktop to one of several web-based remote control systems available. Then I switched to another, and another, and another—until I exhausted the list, ending up with LogMeIn. All were slow as molasses in Minnesota winter. All provided such poor screen quality that I could barely do more than click icons and read with a heavy squint. So, in desperation, and because I just recently switched over to dynamic IPs, I thought I’d try Laplink again.
After downloading the free trial version, I installed it on both laptop and workstation. So far so good. But when I attempted to set up the Internet linkage, guess what? What else? The network only recognized my laptop. Where the hell was the workstation, other than 10 feet away from me? Déjà vu all over again. But it gets worse. In the intervening year LapLink had eliminated phone support, making live chat the only support option.
The first chat support rep I encountered couldn’t understand what I meant by: “I can’t register my host computer.” We went back and forth for a while until he asked me if I meant “assign” the computer to my Internet network, which is another way of saying the same thing. Then he chided me for throwing him off by using the wrong term—despite all of Laplink’s documentation and onscreen prompts saying “register,” not “assign.” Sounds like English wasn’t his primary language, and he’d read a bad translation of the English language manual. Regardless, he couldn’t identify the problem, so he gave me an FAQ to follow to get rid of me. Of course, the FAQ did not address the problem.
Back to square one. On to tech two, who gave me another FAQ to follow—and then he went splitsville. This FAQ asked me to go into the registry and delete two files in a specified folder, then uninstall and reinstall the program. Too bad the specified files weren’t in that folder—or anywhere else I looked.
Back to square one again. And on to tech three. And another FAQ. But at least this guy recognized the problem right off the bat: the registration process (and he did say “registration”) corrupts often enough to deserve its very own FAQ. I had to manually remove the non-functional corrupt registration and try again. But at least he stayed “live” until I successfully completed the fix. Three reps. I don’t know how many hours. All to find a known issue.
Was it worth all the time and effort—and worth having my blood boil dealing with putative “techs” ignorant of the product? As it turned out, when I finally saw the app in operation, I discovered that Laplink’s remote control is much faster with much better screen quality than the others. But from a customer experience standpoint, on a scale of one to 10 I’d give this one a minus 11. Would I ever recommend Laplink to anyone not over-the-edge desperate? Hell no. Companies that don’t take the trouble to properly train support staff don’t deserve customers’ business. And increasingly, customer aren’t giving it to them. Unless they’re desperate like I was. But believe me, I’ll hold my nose whenever I use it.
My research partner David Mangen and I conducted a study two years ago titled, “Customers Say What Companies Don’t Want To Hear” (now available free from the CustomerThink Research Library). Among the most striking findings is that customers won’t separate product quality from service quality. From a customer perspective, sellers offer either both or neither. Guess where that places Laplink—and scads of other companies like it?