Tate Computer Systems is a family-owned repair and service center in Memphis that's been in business for over 30 years. TCSi, also an Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP), has used this time to build a reputation for service excellence that puts customers at the heart of their business.
Because of this, Tate Computer Systems pushes to "bring order" to managing their customers' technology needs and be a dependable partner. As a business that supports other enterprises, their approach focuses on helping customers keep their systems up and running without fail.
"Our can-do attitude for both repair and services helps our customers stay in front of the rapid changes in technology at a cost they can afford," reads their LinkedIn page. "We take pride in our staff and the expertise they provide in all areas of business technology."
This also meant finding a platform that could match Tate's service standards.
Like many Fixably clients, Tate Computer Systems needed a new and better solution to manage growing business needs. TCSi was managing repairs on a CRM (customer relationship management) solution that came integrated with their QuickBooks accounting software. But it was unable to manage things as efficiently as they wanted.
"It was an outdated CRM solution," says Jada Tate, General Manager, TCSi. "It didn't really allow us to communicate easily with our customers. There was a feature to add notes, which was customized a bit, but there weren't any other details available, like timestamps for example. It forced us to go into two systems (to find necessary information)."
Apart from the lack of features, the integration wasn't stable and there were instances when data was not synchronized and managed properly.
"The CRM and QuickBooks were also supposed to merge our repair tickets, but they didn't 'communicate' with each other very well sometimes," Jada adds. "This was hindering us from getting the job done quickly."
They tried to work around the integration issues by manually merging repair orders and customer data. But that only works when you have the extra time to do the manual work.
It's not unusual for repair businesses to accommodate such inefficiencies, but TCSi didn't want to compromise on customer experience at the store.
"We tried to do everything we could to kind of merge things before the customer would come in so we wouldn't run into issues," recalls Jada. "But we had a really big influx during COVID, and we realized that we couldn't keep up with trying to deal with this issue."
Of course, no business can afford to constantly work around problems with managing their basic workflow, especially when these issues play out in front of customers.
"It was really frustrating us and made us kind of start looking for different solutions to help us bridge that gap and help us to figure things out. We didn't want to be dealing with any issues, especially in front of customers."
Repair and service shops, often local businesses with only a handful of locations, rely on customer reviews and word-of-mouth marketing to grow the business. Online referrals, easily accessible through review sites and Google local business listings, is how most customers find and choose a repair shop.
Consequently, such businesses are hurt harder when the opportunity to gain from otherwise great customer service is taken away due to software inefficiencies.
"QuickBooks has been our go-to and we tried to customize that as much as we could, but there's only so much you can do," she adds. "We had to venture out and figure out what other AASPs are using, and how we could get ahead of these issues."
This is at the heart of the issues that many repair shops face. Having an accounting software or a generic project and resource management system to manage the workflow is risky. They are not built to efficiently manage what repair shops do.
Repair shops have specific business requirements that are unique, from organizing the repair workflows to inventory management, financial reporting, and customer communication records.
This is why Fixably's features caught Jada's attention. They were looking for specific functionalities that put the repair flow at the centre of their business management software. In addition, integrations like GSX and Quickbooks meant that they could keep track of all repairs and related financials on one platform.
"All of the features that were listed on the Fixably site already were things that excited me," says Jada. "And then, you know, once we got into the demo, I was like, this is heaven right now for us to be able to do the things that we really need to do as far as merging GSX and our ticketing system."
What she really needed was a service management system that could combine all data on one platform. "I knew that if we could get GSX information to merge with something that records and tracks customer information, that's really what we needed at the top. So GSX integration was definitely a key piece for us to feel like, okay, this is something that can really work for us."
Fixably was developed for the specific needs of repair shops. But even then, there are differences in the way individual businesses function. This is why our platform was also built to be more customizable than your average repair shop solution.
"After kind of understanding that it was very customizable and codeable, it was definitely promising. It was just us needing to, of course, play around with it and to use that demo period to see if Fixably was something that we really can use. We understood that our Fixably environment doesn't have to look just like how it was demoed."
Jada's reasoning was simple. To have all your solutions working together seamlessly, while having one user interface to manage the whole process would invariably make the workflow exponentially more efficient.
"We basically knew that a system that had GSX integration and customizable macros was going to cut down time considering how we were using a CRM, QuickBooks and GSX all separately," she explains. "And so when we knew that they could merge on one platform, we were like, this is definitely going to cut down time for us."
Knowing that they'll be using one application instead of three was enough to decide on if the platform was going to be an upgrade on their current workflow.
"Our lead technician for Apple was definitely very excited," she adds. "We also do PC repairs here and so that's a part of our workflow and that's included in our macros as well. And all of our techs were excited to have something to help things flow a little easier."
The transition wasn't the easiest, but the gains were soon apparent.
"I think the rollout was pretty quick, but I wouldn't say it was easy. It's really important to understand your repair workflow around the office. If you don't, you won't know everything you need to do in order to customize the software. But I will say that the way that it is set up for you is easy. I did appreciate the screenshots of how to set certain things up and the support team."
Jada also realized that all the details that the platform tracked, captured, and added to a repair ticket would ensure that there was no miscommunication between the service representatives managing the front of the shop and the technicians who had to rely on that information to do repairs.
With Fixably, the service representatives were able to pass on all relevant information within the repair ticket so that the technician did not have to worry about missing out on anything. Some repair shops underestimate the impact that collaboration between employees in the repair store can have.
It's something Jada focuses on at Tate Computer Systems.
"I try to let everyone know, the customer service rep and the technician, that as long as we know how to work together and the technicians are doing their part and the customer service reps are doing their part, it's going to be so much easier for us to work and not have to communicate back and forth so much."
Fixably fits neatly into the workflow to achieve this.
"Now, you can look into the repair ticket and see everything that's going on because of all the details you can add," says Jada.
"You can see the issue, the diagnosis, and the resolution in one continuous view. And the fact that it's time stamped — say we give someone a call — makes it easy as a customer service representative. All the technicians need to do is pay attention and any time you look up a repair ticket, the details of all customer interaction is there for them.
"Something may have changed and you don't have to go to the tech and tell them that. It's things like this that can be eliminated from the workflow with Fixably."
Family-owned businesses tend to have a deeper connection with their customers and pay greater attention to this aspect of their business. TCSi is no exception.
"It (customer interaction) has definitely gotten better," Jada confirms. "We understand that we do have core values here, which is to be respectful, to put customer service before personal feelings, and just to make sure that we are maintaining a professional attitude."
Even a little bit of control can have a meaningful impact in improving customer satisfaction. Apart from having a uniform tone and quality of language through automated communication, being able to respond to specific customer requests is a feature that has helped Jada and her team.
"I really like that customers can indicate the preferred contact so our people can know. For example, I was telling my team this week that we had a customer who said her voicemail was full and so she only wants text messages. So the fact that we're able to mark that and actually get in front of it is really beneficial.
"The communication features and task management is useful in knowing what to say to customers. If someone calls in for an update, we're able to communicate exactly what time the technician tried to get in touch or the current update on a repair. So communication has definitely been way, way better with our customers."