Virgin Group has opened a new online service that promises help for people suffering from "digital stress." Technicians are available to assist with email, computer viruses and gadget problems and are on call 24 hours a day. Customers can pay by the problem at $30 or by the month at a flat rate of $15.
The service launched in the U.K. just over two years ago. Virgin Help has resolved 90 percent of problems on their first try, the company says.
Who are these digital know-it-alls? Apple , after all, has its "geniuses" who service customers at Genius Bar stores; now Virgin has its "champs," who are available to help with all electronics, including Apple products. Technicians diagnose issues through live chat and by email. Phone support is available to monthly subscribers. Work on computers is done remotely after customers grant permission.
Chris Blake, the U.S. spokesperson for Virgin Digital, told TechNewsDaily that all Champs have degrees in computer science, a minimum of two years of tech support experience and 10 weeks of in-house training. They are continuously audited as they work with customers. Further, they test new products.
"We're getting ready for the launch of the iPad 3 . As soon as they're available, our technicians will get to play with them, so they can anticipate the most likely issues people will have," Blake said.
According to Virgin Digital Help's research, 66 percent of consumers feel they spend too much time either trying to fix tech-related issues themselves or waiting for help. Meanwhile, 24 percent are too overwhelmed to get the issue resolved at all.
Many of the services that Virgin Digital Help features are directed at first-timers, such as people who need help setting up their home wireless router or adding a new email account to their smartphone.
But Blake said it's also good for "gadget gurus" like himself who would rather get a quick fix than struggle with a problem.
"An update comes out, and I'll try to install it only to get "user error" over and over again," he said.