I originally wrote today’s post for Coveo; this is a slightly modified version of that post. It appeared on their site on February 28, 2023.
One of the hot topics of 2023 is the concept or movement known as “right to repair.” It’s not a new concept, though. You own your car. You can take it to any mechanic if it needs repairs. But that’s not how it always was. Used to be that you’d have to go to a dealership for those repairs, but after decades of work to get right to repair legislation passed, you can take your car to a local mechanic to get it fixed or fix it yourself.
Lawmakers are now trying to push for the same legislation for other products, everything from electronics to medical equipment to tractors! You own it. You should be able to repair it yourself or take it wherever you want to get it repaired rather than going back to the manufacturer or an authorized dealer.
In order for that to happen, manufacturers would have to provide you, the owner, as well as independent repair shops, with access to not only service manuals and other product or service information but also affordably-priced tools and replacement parts.
Who’s in favor of the law?
Without a doubt, consumers support right to repair. It means they have flexibility and choice, but it also means they’ll save money. Others in favor of the law also cite less or reduced electronic waste; rather than throwing away the products because they can’t afford the repairs, consumers will get them fixed and continue to use them for years to come. And, consider this: oftentimes the replacement costs less than the repairs.
Who’s against it?
Manufacturers don’t like the concept. They want to be the only ones to fix your products, allowing them to set the prices for parts and service. They’re also concerned about their intellectual property, trade secrets, and copying by third parties as a result of providing manuals and details that allow for others to fix “their” products.
In California, for example, while consumers and many lawmakers supported the right to repair bill, lobbyists jumped in and kiboshed the effort, citing consumer safety and privacy as their primary concerns.
“Consumers, businesses of all sizes, schools and hospitals need to know that the people who repair their products will do so safely, securely and correctly,” Dylan Hoffman, TechNet’s Executive Director of California and the Southwest, said in a statement. “So-called ‘right-to-repair’ bills would result in serious harm to consumers’ privacy and safety by providing sensitive security information and equipment to anyone who wants it, regardless of whether they’ve been trained, certified, or vetted.”
What’s the status of right to repair laws?
In the US, right to repair laws are primarily being discussed and passed at the state level. There are currently 34 states that have introduced right to repair laws for digital/electronic equipment. At the federal level, the president has directed the FTC to limit manufacturers’ ability to restrict independent repairs. Several European countries have enacted right to repair laws.
What are the law’s requirements?
Right to repair laws make for a great customer experience. Think of the benefits and the goodwill when customers have the flexibility to choose how or where they get their products repaired – and you’ve provided them with the tools and the information to do just that.
According to Repair.org, who advocates for a competitive repair market, independent repair facilities (and individuals) need access to the same things that dealers and their service folks have, including:
- Providing manuals, schematics, and software updates; software licenses (EULAs) shouldn’t limit support options; and contracts should clearly state what’s included in the sale.
- Making parts and tools, including diagnostic tools, available at affordable prices.
- Allowing unlocking, adapting, or modifying a device so that the customer can install custom software.
- Designing products in such way that it doesn’t require a college degree in that product to repair it.
How can you prepare?
While there is still plenty of pushback on right to repair laws, i.e., not everyone is convinced that it will benefit consumers (and/or manufacturers), with the recent passing and enactment of the Right to Repair Act in New York, the winds are blowing in a positive direction.
As a result, your customers are going to need information. You can resist, or you can get on board and provide them with the information that they need. Doing the latter will certainly ensure that you deliver a great customer experience, garner recommendations, and, ultimately, earn brand loyalty.
Work with your customers. Help them solve problems. Make it easy, seamless, and frictionless. Those are customers’ expectations about the experience today. Don’t complicate matters when there’s no reason to.
At the crux of the matter is that businesses must provide customers with information. One of the tools that many companies have at their disposal to fulfill this obligation is a knowledge base as part of their overall, enterprise-wide knowledge management system, which offers self-service solutions for customers – whether they are consumers or independent repair shops – and benefits employees, as well.
What’s a knowledge management system?
First off, knowledge management is a discipline comprised of various technologies, processes, and strategies to capture, distribute, and effectively use existing knowledge.
A knowledge base is a repository – or a self-service online library – of information about your products or services. The information in the knowledge base typically comes from internal subject matter experts who write up and build out relevant details about the product or service. The knowledge base is part of your knowledge management system and strategy.
And, according to Wikipedia, a knowledge management system is “a subset of enterprise content management software, which contains a range of software that specializes in the way information is collected, stored, and/or accessed.” It further notes that “KM software in most cases provides a means for individuals, small groups, or mid-sized businesses to innovate, build new knowledge in the group, and/or improve customer experience. Knowledge management systems (software) include a range of about 1,500 or more different approaches to collect and contain information to then build knowledge that can be searched through specialized search tools.”
Knowledge management systems benefit both customers and employees. Let’s take a look at how they impact both.
How does a knowledge management system benefit customers?
Some of the many and varied benefits to customers include the following, all of which improve the overall customer experience:
- Better customer service: When your agents have access to complete and detailed information, they can provide more accurate and timely responses to customers.
- More self-service options: Your self-service portal or site allows customers to research and access information and resources themselves, at their own convenience. This can lead to quicker issue resolution.
- Increased product knowledge and understanding: This ties in directly with the right to repair laws. By providing customers with product information, how-to guides, and other resources, you’re helping customers understand, use, and repair products themselves and in a more-timely manner.
- Increased trust and loyalty: When customers have access to high-quality, thorough, relevant, and accurate information, they’re more likely to trust – and be loyal to – the brand.
- Time and cost savings: By allowing customers to answer their own routine inquiries or to repair products themselves, you’re helping them save money and be more efficient.
- Better decision-making: By having access to complete, relevant, and accurate information, customers can make more informed decisions about their next best actions.
How does a knowledge management system benefit employees?
Similarly, knowledge management systems improve the employee experience by assisting employees with their jobs.
- Increased efficiency: By having a centralized repository of information, employees can easily access the details they need to do their jobs, thereby reducing the time and effort needed to find and use relevant information.
- Better collaboration: Knowledge management systems may include collaboration and communication tools that allow employees to work together more effectively and to share information and expertise more easily. They can help each other.
- Greater productivity: When employees collaborate and share information across teams or departments, information silos are broken down, improving both productivity and knowledge alignment across the organization.
- More learning and development opportunities: With access to all of this great information, including instructional materials, best practices, and other resources, employees can further develop their own skills and improve their performance.
- Better decision-making: Employees can make more informed decisions based on the best available data about products and services.
- Increased job satisfaction: When employees have access to the information and resources they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively, they can experience higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement. Not having access to these resources is a game changer and a major source of dissatisfaction, as noted in my last article for Coveo, Quiet Quitting: Why It Doesn’t Need to Happen.
How does that translate to right to repair?
Those are all solid benefits for both customers and employees, and they translate well to the right to repair laws because those laws then put the power into customers’ hands to get their products repaired however and wherever they choose.
Customers can use knowledge management systems in the following ways to assist them with repairing products:
- Get access to repair guides and manuals.
- Resolve their own issues through searching for information on common problems and identifying troubleshooting steps.
- Receive technical support via online chat or ticket-based systems to help them with more complex repairs.
- Get information about replacement parts, including where to purchase and how to install them.
- Get access to video tutorials that demonstrate repair procedures, making it easier for customers to understand and complete repairs.
By providing customers (and employees) with easy access to the information and resources needed to repair products, knowledge management systems can help improve the customer experience and support the right to repair legislation.
Without an efficient knowledge management model in place, information that is critical to the current, ongoing, and future success of the supply chain may be jeopardized. In short, knowledge management is retrieving the right information, for the right people, at the right time. ~John Yuva
Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In 2019, she published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. In 2022, she published her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business (Advantage|ForbesBooks), which is available to purchase on Amazon, Books A Million!, Target, Barnes & Noble, and thousands of other outlets around the world! Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your EX and CX game.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.