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View Full Version : Tracking Tag for Customers Computers


NETWizz
02-24-2011, 08:21 PM
Here is what I am thinking...

Pretty much after a short while all computers start looking alike and it becomes somewhat difficult to track the work-orders & parts history for various comptuers as well as managing users' expectations. Pretty much most techs just reach into a filing cabinate and pull out past work orders then go to the work-site and make sense of it all when they get there. The problem is that Jon Doe's worksite may have 10 ore more computers and 6 months later you won't know what was done to which comptuer or why unless you read ALL of your paperwork and compare serial numbers... too much work!


It would also not be good to have 10 in your shop and not cleary have them marked which computer belongs to whom and what they want done or the "chief complaint." Obviously, you would have to sort this all out and never tell the customer. Provided you fix their problem and return the right computer, they are not going to be upset, but they will NOT understand how you can't remember which computer is theirs or how it is possible to forget, but they do not see 10+ computers per day over 200 a month, either.

**********

I do not do work for people directly, but I have a lot of experience and work for a company. Essentially, I do mostly server & network related tasks and occasionally pull-off a favor for a co-worker just to be nice.


Here is the point... Several years ago, I wrote some corporate inventory software for fixed-asset tracking to use our Asset tags at work. Then it occured to me. Instead of a tag that reads:

Property of
XYZ Corporation
[barcode]
[human-readable number]

Why not:

This Computer Was Serviced By
ABC Company (800)-555-5555
[barcode]
[human-readable number]



As long as the tag is small, does not claim ownership, is professionally printed including a barcode & by the same suppliers that create Corporate Asset Tags, and is removable (i.e. don't buy the security ones that say void or tear into pieces), and they are placed in a non-objectionable area (like right next to the Service Tag), I think most people will be perfectly fine with it.


It was VERY easy to code my software to use a barcode scanner because it is just a USB keybaord as far as the comptuer is concerned... Essentially, it just types the barcode numbers/letters and carriage-return/line-break after the scan. Hence, a little JavaScript to jump to the next field (or submit the HTML form) was all I needed.


The reason I bring this up is that I think many of you coudl carry a roll of 1,000 of these with you and run some software on a laptop or tablet. Then, you scan your tag, scan their service tag (serial if HP or other), scan the model number barcode if present... point is every single computer I have seen has a barcode for everything & I designed my software to store all that in an SQL database.


After this you can search by site (for you customer), computer, serial number... whatever and update the history each time a particular computer is seen. On a repeat visit, you just scan the computer you are going to work on! Likewise the tag you provide can be on all the paperwork, which you can print with a battery powered printer you keep in your car for use with yoru laptop/tablet.


Oh, and quality laser barcode scanners are only about $112 delivered to your door. They can easily read the barcode in any oriantation including diagonally or upside-down and from up to about 18" away. The process is as quick as the grocery store scanning your UPC codes when you buy food and other products.

Here is what I think a tag should look like only it needs to be reasonably small:

14049752
02-24-2011, 08:28 PM
Personally, I don't like the idea of leaving anything on a customer's computer. That part of it is partly preference.

Otherwise, the part about reading all of your paperwork, etc seems like the problem you're overcoming. I honestly don't know how anyone could operate without electronic records. Everything we do gets recorded into our custom database. I'm able to search past history based on customer, pc serial number, date, or even by text in a workorder notes. Using your own serial number would make that easier, as it'd be all standardized, but otherwise I don't think you're suggesting anything new.

dk99
02-24-2011, 08:44 PM
Personally, I don't like the idea of leaving anything on a customer's computer. That part of it is partly preference.

Otherwise, the part about reading all of your paperwork, etc seems like the problem you're overcoming. I honestly don't know how anyone could operate without electronic records. Everything we do gets recorded into our custom database. I'm able to search past history based on customer, pc serial number, date, or even by text in a workorder notes. Using your own serial number would make that easier, as it'd be all standardized, but otherwise I don't think you're suggesting anything new.
+1
yeah we have a database for all info including customers info/serial number/model#/ so we can access anytime efficiently. I did a poll a few years back asking customers If they would care if I had a sticker on their pc I think it was something like 75% said no they don't want any stickers. I had one lady tell me that she hated going to G.S. not only because of price and wait time but they kept sticking those little stickers on her pc..

mraikes
02-24-2011, 08:59 PM
Here's what I use:

http://www.darn-computer.com/images/RepairTag.jpg

I write the RO number and customer's last name, or business name. For example: 6511-Jones

A sticker is applied to every machine and anything else that might get mixed up (laptop power supplies, bags, peripherals, etc).

The customer name makes it easy to keep track of stuff, and I can always lookup the RO number in my database if I need to reference details in the future. And of course, it gives the user a way to quickly access my contact info.

It's just a customized return address label from Vistaprint. Since my artwork is saved there, I reorder them for "free" whenever they have a promo - which is about every 10 minutes.

DanF
02-24-2011, 09:55 PM
You can always stick the mentioned barcode sticker inside the case. It's strange how nobody thought about this.

Darren55D
02-24-2011, 11:56 PM
I use tamper evident warranty void stickers for this purpose, although admittedly these are only put on after working on the computer, I allocate each system the number from the next label when I get it and just use a post it note with the number on for workshop tracking until I'm finished. They are small, individually numbered and have a bar-code, and serve the dual purpose of protecting the warranty on any hardware work carried out on the computer, and allowing me to quickly identify the system if/when it is brought back to me.
They are $9.99/6.15 including free international delivery from labelogixusa on ebay for 100 stickers.

Darren

NETWizz
02-25-2011, 02:14 AM
You can always stick the mentioned barcode sticker inside the case. It's strange how nobody thought about this.

Nobody wants to open the case of every computer i.e. If it is virus removal, opening the case would be silly. In contrast, a small enough sticker in an inconspicuous but easily accessible place would probably not anger too many people.

Knightsman
02-25-2011, 02:20 AM
I use a magnet on the steel cases. That way its not permanent but does its job. Now business customers, this is a good idea!

NETWizz
02-25-2011, 02:32 AM
I would personally buy removable adhesive stickers; since, many cases are plastic. Besides the idea is to keep the tag as small as possible and unobtrusive. Put it next to all the regulatory stuff & manufacturer's codes. Maybe make the tag black instead of a vibrant color, etc.

Xander
02-25-2011, 03:38 AM
You can always stick the mentioned barcode sticker inside the case. It's strange how nobody thought about this.Not to hijack but, back when drivers were a lot harder to find, I used to tape the drivers disc I would make inside the side panel.

NETWizz
02-25-2011, 09:41 PM
I still do that for some things. For example, if it is a motherboard and the box has the Serial Number, Model Number, and all that stuff, I cut it out and tape that inside the case. I figure if someone needs that information from the motherboard, they are goign to have the case open anyway.

Another thing I thought about doing is making a quick program that I could scan everything inside the case... i.e. the Hard drives serial numbers, optical drive serial numbers, processor serial numbers, RAM serial numbers, ... pretty much everything then make one print-out. I never did this though because I figured if a particular part fails that is under warranty it is up to the person servicing it to verify warranty (or not). Still, I think if I were a white-box system builder or sold entire computer systems in a store, I would do this in a heartbeat. This sheet of paper would list each origional item that is covered by the shop and the serial number. If a shop placed a Western Digital drive with Serial 39MAY30309202, that would be on the list. Should the customer bring it in with a different hard-drive that died durring the warranty period - not covered (the hard drive, specifically)!

I would NOT use those stickers that say "VOID if Removed" because they have no legal bearing anyway. For instance, someone can legally upgrade his or her own video card if they buy a computer from you. Obviously, you would be still on-the-hook for the warranty of the entire system (but NOT the video card). Obviously, if they cause damage due to neglect i.e. Broken PCI-Express slot, you would be off-the-hook.

At the end of the list if you write a short program, it would be easy to have it concatnate everything together and create a short CRC32 or MD5 hash and a code for that. Ideally, you could verify the entire sheet of paper by typing (or scanning) each line item. The final code would just ensure someone did not tamper with the paper.

GreenCycleComputers
02-25-2011, 10:06 PM
Personally I think putting stickers (other than temp ones for tracking) on a customer computer is a terrible idea. Repairing a PC and giving it back to a customer is not the same as asset tracking for a corporation.

If you keep a database by something as simple as customer contact info or serial number you can track whatever you want. If we say that %90 of the time you never see this customer again and %90 of the time they do come back its either for a different computer or a completely unrelated problem they you are wasting a lot of effort and time for probably zero return. You can get exactly the same benefit just keeping a regular database.

Another thought is sure most people probably wouldn't care but some will. You won't lose a customer by not putting a sticker on their machine but you will lose some if you do.

NETWizz
02-25-2011, 11:22 PM
In th at case their Serial Number is probably the best bet to use for internal tracking of that computer's history.

bwhatley87
02-26-2011, 01:06 AM
We put a vinyl serialized sticker on every piece of hardware we touch. Thanks to PC repair tracker, it is easy to tg these in and out by a PC number.

Not only does this make it easy for us, it also keeps our phone number right by the customer anytime they need it. We've never had any complaints. The vinyl stickers don't rub of or tear. They're only about 39 cents each. May try the dymo labeling feature of pcrt when I run out of these.

NETWizz
02-26-2011, 01:32 AM
That is what I was thinking only more rectangular and made to look a little more like a tag that might be put on by HP or Dell. I think that is a good idea though because it makes it easy for you guys to service it again in the future.

CompGeek
02-26-2011, 04:13 AM
Im currently looking into PCRT, and love this feature of it. I currently put labels on my customers machines, and have never had any complaints. Most of them even tell me its a great idea because they can't keep up with business cards :-)

Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk

bwhatley87
02-26-2011, 04:55 AM
I am looking at label logix that was mentioned earlier in the thread. $10.00 for 100 labels is a good price! $15.00 for custom...

Cybjun
02-26-2011, 07:04 AM
Nobody wants to open the case of every computer i.e. If it is virus removal, opening the case would be silly. In contrast, a small enough sticker in an inconspicuous but easily accessible place would probably not anger too many people.

1. I open every case because I do full diagnostics on everything in my shop. its pointless to remove viruses on a machine without checking to see if the hard drives good or if the capacitors on the motherboards are leaking.

2. Put a sticker on a High-End Gamer PC that the person spend $5,000 on and see how long it takes before your apologizing and praying that the sticker will come off clean.

NETWizz
02-26-2011, 07:46 AM
That is the difference in our methodologies. I would not want to spend my time going though a 70-point inspection on each computer though I am not self-employed. All that said, giving an inspection report to a customer is probably a good value because if nothing else it helps "Manage Expectations" and could create repeat business.

My thing was that I always felt like opening someone else's case is only acceptable if there is a suspected hardware problem inside. For example, when I take my car the the dealership for an oil change, I doubt they open my trunk or glove-box; since, the oil doesn't go there. I have always looked at it as a "privacy" issue... not that there are any secrets, but it really depends on the work-order. Obviously, if the system is unstable, blue screens all the time... it makes total sense to pop the case open and look to see if the capacitors are bulging/leaking. There is no use in servicing a computer's Operating System, Viruses, and other Software issues until the Hardware is known to be working properly.

How does opening the case check to see that the hard drive is good?


A custom $5000 gaming machine is a special situation with a special user that has a fancy case with LED lighting, water cooling, 3 or more video cards... With this type of person it gets down to managing expectations and your people-skills. Chances are he uses Green #602 to color his cooling fluid because he thinks it looks like monster blood and Green #601 although seamingly identical to you and me won't cut it for him!

Haktar
02-27-2011, 07:54 PM
in our shop im currently writing our system, it tracks everything, it prints a receipts and a label when the device is checked in so the customer is leaving with something and we have there device clearly labelled with there name, fault and phone number, the guys all think its great, when the device is checked out as repaired a Nova Tekk label with our details is printed to place on there device and we haven't had any complaints, ive also recently just worked an a phone app so our techs can see in real time whats happening in the shop, i love stats lol

Martyn
02-27-2011, 08:08 PM
I'm ramping up to use PC Repair Tracker. Just bought a Dymo label machine off Ebay so I can label all machines and parts like laptop cases and power blocks directly from the program.

TimJacobs
02-28-2011, 07:48 AM
in our shop im currently writing our system, it tracks everything, it prints a receipts and a label when the device is checked in so the customer is leaving with something and we have there device clearly labelled with there name, fault and phone number, the guys all think its great, when the device is checked out as repaired a Nova Tekk label with our details is printed to place on there device and we haven't had any complaints, ive also recently just worked an a phone app so our techs can see in real time whats happening in the shop, i love stats lol

Would love to see ScreenShots of it all when you get done with it.

Haktar
02-28-2011, 07:51 PM
Would love to see ScreenShots of it all when you get done with it.

no problem buddy, i could upload some pics of the iphone app ive been working on just now, i would upload some in progress till software pictures but im at home just now.

The app was created because some of the Techs are part time so this lets them can keep upto date with everything in real time.

The First image is the individual staff details, most of it is self explanatory although 'Repairs PD' is the average amount of repairs that tech will fix on a normal day, 'Jobs Repaired Today' will stay red until Repairs PD is reached the it will go green to show them they have met there usual target.

The Second image is the current jobs we have in the shop, it give you little information on the Job = Make, Series, Model, Fault and the Customers Name

The Third image contains some more details from a job selected in the second image and also a little link to contact the customer from the app to there mobile or home phone if we have that in the db.

seedubya
02-28-2011, 08:00 PM
Wow, Haktar - that looks really nice.

iisjman07
02-28-2011, 08:21 PM
Wow, Haktar - that looks really nice.

Me = Severely Jealous

puzz1ed1
02-28-2011, 08:51 PM
I'm ramping up to use PC Repair Tracker. Just bought a Dymo label machine off Ebay so I can label all machines and parts like laptop cases and power blocks directly from the program.

It's worth customising the label template file that comes with it :)

Martyn
02-28-2011, 09:14 PM
It's worth customising the label template file that comes with it :)


Yes i'm doing tweaking right now :)

TimJacobs
03-01-2011, 06:07 AM
Me = Severely Jealous

+1..... I just wish I could make up stuff like that.....

gikstar
03-01-2011, 07:01 AM
Need to keep track of everything in the computer before it goes out the door?

May I suggest that you download and use the free program SPECCY from Piriform who also brings you Ccleaner, Defraggler and Recuva : http://www.piriform.com/products

Run the program on the system and then 'File' 'Save as text file'.
I think this is all of the information that you will need to keep on file.:)

Martyn
03-01-2011, 09:28 AM
Need to keep track of everything in the computer before it goes out the door?

May I suggest that you download and use the free program SPECCY from Piriform who also brings you Ccleaner, Defraggler and Recuva : http://www.piriform.com/products

Run the program on the system and then 'File' 'Save as text file'.
I think this is all of the information that you will need to keep on file.:)

I do that with SIW tech licnce and I've asked PC Repair Tracker to add the facility to attach the file for completeness :)

jimbojambo
03-01-2011, 11:59 AM
no problem buddy, i could upload some pics of the iphone app ive been working on just now, i would upload some in progress till software pictures but im at home just now.

The app was created because some of the Techs are part time so this lets them can keep upto date with everything in real time.

The First image is the individual staff details, most of it is self explanatory although 'Repairs PD' is the average amount of repairs that tech will fix on a normal day, 'Jobs Repaired Today' will stay red until Repairs PD is reached the it will go green to show them they have met there usual target.

The Second image is the current jobs we have in the shop, it give you little information on the Job = Make, Series, Model, Fault and the Customers Name

The Third image contains some more details from a job selected in the second image and also a little link to contact the customer from the app to there mobile or home phone if we have that in the db.

Now thats cool :D Do you plan on releasing it to the comunity or even selling it?

Im looking at this thread and wondering if i can amend my customer or part tracking databases that i put on here and improve them with more info and have it create an invoice or sticker too

MikeLierman
03-01-2011, 12:26 PM
Also wondering if you plan on sharing with the community.. although it seems that anyone who developes their own tracking php sql software on here, ends up selling it. That's how ShopManager and PC Repair Tracker started.. lol.

Haktar
03-08-2011, 12:45 PM
Thanks for your kind replys guys, I do plan on selling it because i feel its different from all of the other repair trackers out there, only a fraction of my code is web based, i never liked the idea of having everything tracked in a browser my application is designed to be ran on a dedicated till machine

TimJacobs
03-08-2011, 06:16 PM
Thanks for your kind replys guys, I do plan on selling it because i feel its different from all of the other repair trackers out there, only a fraction of my code is web based, i never liked the idea of having everything tracked in a browser my application is designed to be ran on a dedicated till machine

any idea on the price yet?