Do You Trust Your Satcom Advisor?

I recently bought saddlebags for my motorcycle from an on-line store.  I ride a Triumph Rocket III and due to the exhaust, there are only certain bags that will fit.  In addition, I needed a certain size so I can carry around my laptop and gym bag without having to strap things to the luggage rack; a cleaner look.  I consulted with a service rep from the company and he told me the bags I was looking at would fit my bike so I plunked down $289 and $24.99 for shipping and waited.  They came and the excitement of a new ‘toy’ overtook me and I hurried home to install them.  They didn’t fit .  What a disappointment – you know the kind I mean, when you are all excited for something and it doesn’t work out or work as planned.

That was only the beginning: I had to pester the company with several on-line requests and two phone calls to get them to issue the RMA.  Then they expected me to pay for the return shipping; and they refuse to refund the $24.99 shipping.  I have reminded them repeatedly that it was their rep who advised me that buying the bags would work out.

I raise this point because I know it happens so often in the Satcom world.  You call a provider to discuss your requirements and the product delivery falls short of your expectations.  Stories abound about providers that are then non-responsive in one way or another.  This is shameful.  As satellite service providers (if not businesses overall) we have a responsibility to our clients to provide them the proper solution and fix it or ‘make it right’ if it doesn’t work out.  There are two ways we can all do this:

1)      Set realistic expectations.  These are satellite phones – they make and receive calls and texts and can provide (sometimes really slow) data connections.  They will not work indoors, walk your dog, cure cancer and wash your truck.  Yes I am being sarcastic but satellite phones are what they are, nothing more.  I am reminded of one of the Satellite 2012 panels where the moderator asked the satellite networks, “how do you educate your customer base?”.  The consensus was that the dealer/service provider does that.  And it can either be done well, or done poorly.  If the sole purpose of your provider’s ‘education’ is to get you to buy something, you need to look for a new provider.  We are here to serve you, the client first and foremost, not just ‘sell stuff’.

2)      Be accountable and this applies to both parties.  If your service provider makes a bad recommendation, make sure they fix it.  At the same time, don’t do something that renders the solution non-functional and try to pass blame off.  We’ve seen cracked phone screens, broken antennas and mis-configured IP connections that somehow are our fault as the provider?  Nonsense!  In fact we are dealing with a client right now that has an employee who insists on changing data terminal settings and then proclaims, “It doesn’t work”.   Really?  It worked before you played with it and it will work again after we fix it.  So stop playing with it?  Be accountable and hold your provider accountable but be sure to differentiate who is accountable for what.  As service providers we cannot be accountable for what you, the client does.

The bottom line is this: There are terrific Satcom solutions out there and they are as good as the advice you receive when making your choices.  Be sure to make decisions based on your desired result and put transactions in writing so you can demonstrate to your provider that they made the recommendation.  And this cuts both ways – If a recommendation works well, let the provider know they did  a good job for you.  Having a positive working relationship with your satellite service provider is mutually beneficial for the long-term.

Thanks for reading.