Friday, February 20, 2009

Hewlett Packard shows way to win back customers on the brink

It’s been a few days since the last blog - basically because my computer stopped working. Well, that’s not quite true, the internal modem just seemed to disappear from view. I’ve only had my HP Pavillion for between 2 and 3 years, so I was a little miffed to put it mildly. The first phone calls I made to HP were not an example of good marketing and sales. However, despite the fact that Hewlett Packard is having to tighten its strings, I was eventually blown away by a call that showed real customer service and ethics.

The biggest problem in my experience of HP was the number of people I talked to who were not educated sufficiently for their positions. Rather than put me through to someone who could help they confidently told me things that turned out not to be true, or they omitted some pretty important information. For example, the tech support person I called (in the US), confidently told me my motherboard was fried with very little investigation. They apparently forgot to tell me that HP had issued a notice on my model because of recurrent internal modem issues. (That would have saved the next calls).

Nowadays it seems impossible to operate for too long without a computer, so I decided to see what I could buy from HP in the way of another Pavillion laptop. I think I called about 4 or 5 times after I was “advised” by my US tech-support person on what to buy. I was put on hold several times for 15 mins or more. None of the people could answer some basic questions on components.

At this point, I decided to forget HP altogether and emailed their CEO on the webpage form. Rather surprisingly I got a pretty swift reply from Customer Service. I gave HP sales one more shot, and spoke to a representative who actually was educated in the computers he was selling. He got my business and I’m typing this on a new Pavillion laptop.

BUT that’s not all!! A few days later HP called out of the blue to inform me that I should have been told about the notice on my last computer. They sent a Fedex box and it’s currently at HP, possibly about to be repaired for nothing, as the only issue seems to be with the modem. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t tell me about this before I spent money on a new computer, but I really appreciated their proactive honesty.

What lessons can we learn for the recession/depression? Those companies that take a proactive ethical stance and value customer care are the companies that will emerge with loyal, satisfied and even tolerant customers. Education for the sales and tech support teams would have avoided my frustration but my own experience shows even large mistakes in these areas can be rectified with proactive customer service. It would have been easy for HP to forget me, and it costs HP to bring in my laptop to fix it on their dime. The temptation to avoid good service was considerable, but kudos to you HP. You did the right thing, and I believe these principles will stand you in good stead.

No comments: