November 19, 2009

HP responds to ‘Why I love public transportation and hate HP’

David SparkAt the beginning of November I wrote an article titled Why I love public transportation and hate HP after a horrible customer service experience with HP where I had to wait two hours for technical service after I had paid for their tier 2 service. I compared it to public transportation in San Francisco because now we have transponders on our buses letting us know how long we’ll have to wait. That information is very valuable, allowing us to make a decision on how to proceed. Should I wait, take another bus, or hail a cab?

While I like HP products and the actual service was excellent, the wait angered me so much that it has irreparably damaged my opinion of the HP brand. I was contacted by two people at HP and spoke to one of them on the phone off the record. I wanted something on the record that I could print here, so I sent two questions for which the HP representative said he would get an “on the  record” response. After a week and a half, here are the responses to my two questions from Jodi Schilling, Vice President, HP Global Customer Support Operations for the Americas. I reserve my opinions and follow-up questions for you readers until after you read the responses.

My Q&A with HP

David: What is HP doing to educate customers about their wait time online for customer service/technical support? I don’t want to know that on average you answer tech questions in 10 minutes. I want to know how someone who either gets stuck online for a while can figure out what’s happening so they can make an educated decision. For example, when I look at the Muni wait time and it says 45 minutes for the next bus, I know I should take an alternate route. If I know I’m going to be waiting for two hours on hold, I know to take an alternate route.

HP’s response: HP’s focus has been to answer all calls in a timely manner, and we typically do so in 2 minutes or less. In your particular case, it appeared to have been during a time period of unusual and extremely high call volume and we are currently increasing our staffing to ensure minimal hold times. It also looked as if you were transferred twice, which added to the wait time, unfortunately. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

Thank you for your suggestion about the wait time notification system. Although HP currently does not have a system like this in place, we may consider adding one in the future. With the volume of calls coming into HP and being routed to multiple call center locations, estimating hold times is no easy task. The length of technical support calls can also vary widely depending on the issues being discussed and the level of technical expertise of the customer, so providing accurate estimates would be a challenge.

David: Is the official complaint line [email protected]? How are people supposed to know that? Is there a phone number people can call? You said that hundreds of thousands of people send emails, but I’m sure plenty more would if they knew that. Have you done some type of PR campaign to promote that email address? I know that if I click on a couple of screens and scroll to the bottom I can find that, but really, who would know?

Mark HurdHP’s response: Customers are asked for feedback on their support experience after nearly every support interaction, either by phone, on the HP Customer Care site, or following support chats and via email. We greatly value customer feedback and take action on it whenever feasible. If customers have specific complaints, they are encouraged to submit them online here. (Note: This is a form to “email HP CEO Mark Hurd [pictured at right] your suggestions and complaints.”)

My take on HP’s response

While I appreciate HP reaching out to me, I wasn’t that impressed with their response.

1. They’re very sorry about my two hour wait, yet they took a week and a half to answer my two questions. That doesn’t jibe. Continue reading