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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Customer Service Should Not Be Optional

I just read a ZDNet Blog about Jason Perlow’s experience with HP tech support and his deceased laptop. Click on ZDNet link if you want the details. After reading the blog I read many of the 189 comments. (Oh, if I could get that kind of response.) It was interesting that some folks thought Perlow was unreasonable. Some thought he was bigoted regarding outsourced tech support when he expressed concern about understanding the use of English as a second language. Our zealotry for political correctness knows no bounds when a guy verbalizes concerns about understanding technical issues when handicapped by an inability to translate through a dialect. I don’t care where the technical support may be outsourced; a REQUIREMENT should be a clear speaking and understanding of whatever language the customer is using. That’s not bigotry or rocket science it is plain common sense.

After 25 years in the computer business, I was hardly surprised when HP stiff armed Perlow on his laptop. When one of our clients had a warranty issue, they brought it to us and we fought with the manufacturer. In many cases our expertise was disregarded and our clients treated shabbily. In the case of Perlow, after HP gave him their ridiculous price for replacing his screen, we would have ordered the part and replaced the screen at a reasonable price. Why?, because we sold the unit and felt ethically responsible to support our client. Big business ethics is an oxymoron. A small business better show ethical responsible or they won’t be around for 25 years. There were times where our clients were absolutely, positively being shafted by a major manufacturer. Most of the time when we did our best to help them we kept the client and the big name lost them.

It is hardly surprising that as consumers we are robustly cynical. The vendors have programmed us to expect the shaft. When price becomes the only issue, quality is bound to suffer. Vendors spend millions to attract new customers and appear to be blind to the fact that a quality improvement, a caring customer support department and a sense of concern for the client would produce customer retention, which is far more productive and profitable than the constant seining for new business.

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