THE VIP TREATMENT
If your camera suffers a breakdown you want it fixed fast – and that’s exactly what Olympus offers its customers, via state-of-the-art repair facilities. Once registered, its ‘Service-Plus’ option is free to access and puts any OM-D E-M1 user, professional or amateur, firmly into the VIP category. Benefits include an extra six months free warranty, a dedicated hotline for any technical queries, a free pick up for the camera if a repair is required plus a jaw-dropping guaranteed five working day turnaround. This includes a day’s travelling time on either side of a fast-track one-day repair service.
For wedding photographer John Nassari it was yet another box to tick off when considering whether to stick with his existing kit or move across to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 a couple of years back. John is now an Olympus ambassador, and through his honest feedback, workshops and blogs he’s encouraged many others to look seriously at what the OM-D system can offer. One of those to subsequently move across from her existing gear was Katie Heath, a fellow wedding photographer who works regularly with John. She too was won over by flexibility and ease of use.
As an ambassador for the brand John felt he also needed to be able to speak first hand about what goes on behind the scenes, as regards Olympus service and repair. As a result, something of a European road trip was duly set up for him and Katie.
First port of call – no pun intended – was the Olympus Customer Support Centre in Prague, where Manager Martin Jankovsky and Technical Specialist Supervisor (UK) Mark Shayler explained that calls are fielded by highly trained technical staff divided into eight regional teams, each speaking the language of that region. If a query can’t be dealt with on the spot then it’s escalated to another person and the customer is called back with the answer: no one is ever left feeling they’re unimportant.
“We tell our staff that our relationship with the customer doesn’t stop once we’ve persuaded them to buy our product,” reassures Martin. “Rather this is where it begins.”
Surprisingly, perhaps, the call centre features shelves stacked with Olympus gear, including compacts, DSLRs and CSCs and just about every lens within the current Olympus system. “These are there so that when an operator gets a query about a specific piece of kit they can go to the shelf and have it in their hands while they talk to the customer,” Martin reveals. “It just make the whole process easier.”
It transpires many calls relate to perceived breakdowns rather than actual faults. So once an operator has talked through the issue it is usually something that can be resolved by referral to the manual, and there’s no need for the kit to come in for repair.
A second flight and the photographers’ next stop was Portugal’s Olympus Service Facility in the town of Coimbra, where Manager Richard Sousa told them: “This is very different to the way things used to work. Previously every country had separate service centres and it was very inefficient. Olympus took the decision to centralise things, and we’re one of two centres that now service the whole of Europe.”
With Olympus concentrating on the production of premium cameras rather than point-and-shoots of late, the Service Facility now caters for fewer repairs than before – down from around 200,000 a year to nearer 60,000. This in turn has enabled the setting up of bespoke operations, such as the three-day in-house turnaround for the OM-D E-M1.
“When an E-M1 comes in for service it’s prioritised from the very start,” Richard reveals. “It’s separated from the rest of the products and fast tracked through the facility, being placed in a green box to denote the fact that it needs to be handled first. We know that we have to turn it around in just three days, so there is no time to lose. We want the photographer to feel that the service is personal and to show them that we care, and so the camera will be returned to the customer in a bespoke black box, accompanied by a personal signed note from the technician that worked on it, who also includes a lens cloth as a small gift.”
It’s an extraordinary level of service and, of course, with the camera still under warranty, it’s all free, with photographers given the option to purchase an extra two years warranty should they choose to. That kind of reassurance is music to John and Katie’s ears, and they know that, for several years to come at least, that they’re covered pretty much whatever happens.
“I’m often asked by other professionals for a candid view on what it’s like to use,” claims John Nassari, “and it’s really good for me to be able to say that I’ve not only used the camera but I’ve seen the back up facilities in the flesh and can personally vouch for them.”