2012

I wonder if this is a case of too much good customer service or taking things so far that the customer will give up and do something else.  Let me explain.

I have an HP notebook PC and the letters printed on the keyboard are coming off. The notebook is less than a year old and is still under warranty.  Now I do not need to see the letters on the keys for most of the letters but some I do not know where they are without looking – quick, without looking where is your F5 key – see what I mean?

So I went to the HP support website and got on a chat session with HP.  They quickly told me I would need to call for support.  No problem I can do that.  I called the call center and reached a South American support center, cool, first time talking to a South American call center.

I spoke to three different people about my problem.  They all told me how sorry they were that I was having a problem, which is nice but after hearing that at least 10 times I really did not care I just wanted a resolution to my problem.  I know apologizing for the problem is part of the standard Customer Support training but HP has taken it to a new level.  Tell me your sorry once or twice and I am happy, 10 times and I know you are no longer sincere.

My challenge was explaining to HP what the problem was with my notebook.  They had not had this type of problem before and could not understand how the letters could be coming off the keyboard. Were the keys actually falling off the keyboard? Are the keys not working? No, I kept telling them, it is the printing of the letters on the keyboard.  Finally, they understood and that is when the problems began.

Everyone acknowledged my notebook was under warranty but they kept on telling me this was cosmetic and could not be covered.  Hmm, how could this be cosmetic?  Cosmetic is a scratch, dent, smudge, or or my bumper sticker on the back peeling off.  But for the printed letters to wear off after 10 months of use?  Ok maybe I pound away to hard on my keyboard when sending off an email to the sales team, but they deserve it so that should not count.

I am now on my third customer support person and this is a Case Manager and I feel like I am actually getting somewhere.  Oh, by the way this is now over an hour at this point.  I have been put on hold numerous times while they investigate this problem.  Which is another issue I have with customer support.  Do not ask me repeatedly if they can put me on hold tell me you are going to put me on hold.  What if I say “No, you cannot put me on hold?” what will they do, how can they support me?  Just tell me you will put me on hold for 2 -3 minutes and do it.

So my Case Manager tells me sorry this is cosmetic and cannot be covered.  So I tried another angle.  I asked him to take his hands off his keyboard, close his eyes and then put his hands back on the keyboard and type something and it must be 100% accurate.  Success!  He understood my problem and one more time on hold and HP agrees to send me a new replacement keyboard.

This call took me 95 minutes to complete.  HP did everything by the book which leads me to wonder if this not part of a bigger plan to get customers to give up. Here are my examples of going too far with customer service:

  • Asking to put me on hold and telling me hold long I will be on hold.  I get this but don’t ask just tell me you are putting me on hold and for how long.
  • My name is important but not everyone needs to be able to properly pronounce it and spend 2 -3 minutes practicing how to say my name.  When I spoke to three people that alone added 6 – 9 minutes to the call.
  • Getting a customer to fill out a survey is great, but I talked to three people on the call and each asked me to fill out a survey.  Again more time wasted on the call.

I am an “all about the principal of it” type of guy.  That call cost my company more than just buying a new keyboard. So when the clock hit 30 minutes on this call I started to think about just ordering a new keyboard and letting HP win.  But it is the principal of it that made me follow through on this call.

Is this the plan for taking customer service to a new level?  Kill the customer with kindness and delays so they hang up and buy the replacement part.  HP has obviously spent a lot of time and money on proper training, but the training has gone too far and the customer support people need to back off a bit and be more human and less scripted agents.