I assume that the decision makers at a company as large and powerful as Hewlett-Packard have at least average intelligence. But the folks at HP have done a really stupid thing, and I want us all to learn from their mistakes.
Someone at HP has decided that it is in the company’s best interest to support their products for a set number of months. After that time, a customer who wants technical support on their PC or printer, for example, will have to pay a substantial fee for that service. I’m sure HP was thinking, “If we charge them $60 to solve their printer problem, they’d probably rather spend $120 and replace the printer. That’s a good way to speed up their replacement cycle. More new printer sales, and we can stop manufacturing parts and supplies for the older models that much sooner.”
Tha’s brilliant, except there’s a major flaw in the logic. Let me tell you my story about HP, which will help me illustrate this flaw.
About 3 years ago, I bought an HP All-in-One printer. It worked pretty well for three years as a printer, a copier, and a scanner. But when my hard drive had to be replaced, the scan function no longer worked. I’m a trained IT professional, so I knew how to download and update the drivers, but nothing I could do would fix the scanner. So I called HP.
My first call was on a Saturday, and I got a recording telling me to call back during regular business hours. (HP, I’d like you to know that for millions of people, Saturday IS regular business hours.) So I called back on Monday and was on hold for a few minutes before a very polite young man told me that my printer was no longer being supported for free. “Are you willing to pay $59.00 to speak with the technical support personnel?”
I assured him I was not, and I hung up the phone. I guess I’ll go out and buy a new All-in-One.
But if you think for a nanosecond that I’m buying that new machine from Hewlett-Packard, you don’t know me at all. First of all, if I had known on Saturday that I had to buy a new machine, I could have done so on Saturday, and not lost two days of work, or spent that time listening to elevator music while they kept me on hold. No, I was (and still am) furious that the company won’t service their products, and I won’t spend another dime on a product with their name on it.
Now, I’d like you to ponder for a moment, the wisdom of HP’s strategic decision, so that you can learn from their mistake. Consider these important points:
- I used to spend about $30/month on HP toner. I’ll never do that again.
- I’ll buy a new printer, but it will be from one of HP’s competitors, thus decreasing HP’s marketshare on two sides of the equation.
- I am far from alone in this. I’ve visited HP’s Facebook page several times in the past few days, and it’s full of people with the same complaint and the same resolve to avoid the company in the future.
One unhappy customer can have a greater effect on your company’s reputation than 20 satisfied customers. Before you decide to hit the snooze on customer support, please take a lesson from HP, and consider the ramifications.
I’ve posted the following video on HP’s Facebook page several times, and will continue to do so until someone at HP has the good sense to block me from posting there. I think you’ll enjoy the video.