Have you ever wondered who are the people taking care of your broken robots?
Aldebaran provides After-Sales Services in order to help and fix any potential problems you might encounter, whether it’s related to software or hardware, on any of Aldebaran’s products.
The service is composed of several teams that are working together to take care of you. These teams include the customer care, logistics, repair, fleet management, and so on.
With nearly 7 000 NAOs throughout the world, and the release of Pepper in Japan, this is indeed an essential department at Aldebaran.
I have met Emilio Roth, who is the manager of the customer care EMEA (Europe Middle East Africa) team, to learn more.
Hello Emilio! First of all, can you explain the role of your team?
Basically, it’s to be there for the clients. That means, we receive all the calls, e-mails, and tickets that the clients send with their problems and we find the solutions.
Besides that, we take care of our fleet of robots out in the world. What we try to do is to have a whole review of all our fleet of robots worldwide.
Can you introduce the members of your team?
Kazuki TOIDE, Meriem BEN ZAIED, Emilio ROTH, Fabien CHAISE, Xiaowei ZHAO, Francesco CIPOLLONE, Henri COHEN, Rémi DUBROCA and NAO
Yes of course, so among Customer care EMEA, one of the key members of the team is Henri Cohen. He participates directly in supporting the clients.
There is also Rémi Dubroca who is a Software Engineer. He replies to the clients and helps them, in the software basics.
Then there is Xiaowei Zhao who is Customer Care Engineer, specialized in hardware. He is checking the hardware problems and helping us to evolve the product and to debug the robot.
Then there is Yvan Romanoff, a past member of the Community Management team who is now helping us in Japan, mostly with Pepper but also with NAO.
We also have Kazuki Toide who is a Customer Care Agent specialized in helping us with Pepper and the coordination with the Japanese team.
And that’s the Customer Care EMEA team.
I manage and help my teammates and coordinate the efforts to best help our clients.
Besides that, we have Francesco Cipollone and Meriem Ben Zaied who are technical writers taking care of the technical documentation.
Then Fabien Chaise is the responsible for all the support operations, both the repair and the customer care for NAO.
OK, so concretely, how does it work? What is the process?
The process is simple. If the client has encountered a problem with the websites, the software or the robots for instance, he will contact someone and get support. To do that, he can go to the Community webpage, or eventually on Aldebaran webpage, to access the support form.
Once he fills out the support form with the information such as the serial number of the robot, he just has to submit it. From here we get an e-mail to which we follow up on as soon as possible.
If it is a hardware problem, we’ll give to the client a return form in order to let him send back his robot.
Once the robot arrives at Aldebaran, it will go to the repair clinic.
All the repair technicians will take care of the robot and find the solution to make it work properly. Then, they will do a number of qualification tests to be sure that the robot is repaired and working. If the robot passes these tests they send the NAO back to his owner.
The NAO Clinic Team: Kirticoumar CANAGA, Gabriel WANSI, Mickael CHEVARTZMANN, Hervé FRANCO, Ibrahima LEYE
NAO Clinic's waiting room... Next patient?
This NAO seems to have a serious problem with his head. Fortunately, he is in good hands!
NAO qualification test: Shoulders, OK!
These NAOs are standing quietly in line waiting to be sent back to their homes.
What do you expect as big evolutions in your works linked to the future release of NAO for the consumer market?
One of our jobs is to inform everyone how to take care of their robot.
A robot is a complex machine. It’s a hybrid between a car and a computer: it has the electronics of a computer and mechanical parts like a car. Thus, when the client uses the robot, there are mechanical movements, in its motors and its joints, that are getting used. Soon or later, he will need a checkup to make sure everything is still working as it should and if not a repair. Robots, like any other type of machine, need repairs because of the normal wear and tear during the normal life of a robot.
This is something we need to inform all our clients about, because I think many of them do not expect it. Most of them think that a robot is a computer. Let me be clear, a robot is not a computer, it’s a mechanical machine!
Right now, when you buy a computer, I think you plan to use it for around 3 to 5 years without needing to ask support or anything. This is because with a computer, you turn it on and that’s it.
NAO is a mechanical machine so even if he never falls, he’s still moving, walking, using his motors and his temperature is changing. Even if he’s not overheating and even without using the robot a lot, he will require some checkups just like you do with your car. Every certain amount of "miles/kilometers" you drive you should take your car for a checkup because you never know if you need to change the oil, if there is a break, if something isn’t working well because it got overused, and so on. A robot is another mechanical machine and you have to check it every now and again to make sure that it’s fully working and to prevent a bigger problem later on. And to do that you will have to contact the customer care to do that.
Another thing: NAO is being designed to be able to walk, fall down and stand up. NAO can fall thousands of different ways though. He can fall down the stairs, from the top of another object, and so on. We try to cover all these cases when we quality test NAO. We make it fall many times, in many different ways. I’m sure that there will always be a new way that we haven’t tested for.
So it’s possible that NAO will break. This is why there are these after sale services. We take care of these things.
To conclude, I think that for the future of the company, especially regarding the BtoC market, we have a big challenge helping our clients to understand this new technology and to enjoy it. As it is a quite complicated piece of technology, we have to help them to ensure that they will not suffer the experience of “learning how to use this new machine”.
I think it’s going to be challenging for us as the Customer Care unit but also for the company. However, it’s going to be great for the public because I truly believe NAO is a technology worth it. I really believe in it when I think about the future!