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Does HP Need a CCO? You be the judge!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

I have a couple of printers in my office made by HP, who is probably the market leader in this category.  I see them everywhere, and have generally been pleased with their performance and ease of operation.

But that mindset has come to a crashing halt based solely on a service experience I had recently with a CSR from HP technical support, which dates back to a printer problem I’ve been incubating for more than a year.  I called HP technical support to inquire about the status of this complaint. I’ve spent nearly 15 hours with HP tech support and on my own trying to find a workaround so that printouts from my Mac look the same as from my PC.

After summarizing the issue, Jason, the HP CSR I spoke with, told me, “We don’t have to make printers work on the Mac. All we have to do under warranty is make sure that they print on the PC.”

I replied that I’m only trying to get the device to print to the advertised specs.

“You’re comparing apples to oranges,” Jason replied.  “What works on a PC may not work on a Mac. We’re not responsible for all the different settings and configurations.”

I said I’m simply trying to get it to print to specifications – this isn’t an issue of arcane configurations.

“Well, you’re limiting yourself by using a Mac,” Jason said.  I asked, “Are you telling me that you don’t support Mac? “Full bleed printing works just fine on my Canon printer from the Mac.”

“You can’t expect us to copy Canon drivers,” said Jason. “We don’t do that.”

“I’m not expecting you to copy Canon drivers,” I countered.  “I’m only expecting you to support the advertised specifications for your printer.”

I asked for a supervisor, and was denied. I asked for his employee ID number and was denied. I asked for his last name and was denied. I threatened to escalate to HP’s EVP of worldwide service, with whom I’ve had previous discussions and he said, “You just go ahead and do that.”

Sadly, these are the types of exchanges that take place every day, throughout the world. I ended the call right there in a tight-lipped but courteous way. As I hung up the phone, all I could think of was that this entire episode would not have happened if HP had a Chief Customer Officer! 

How can I be so sure?  From my experience working with CCOs – and no one has spent more time with these individuals than I have – training CSRs to be sympathetic, responsive and respectful to customers in all customer interactions is one of the first things they tackle.  Believe me, if a CCO was on the job at HP I would have had a far more positive experience with this agent.  I still may have a problem with printer from my Mac, but at least I would have known that the CSR did everything he could to soften the blow.

CCO Council research has shown that less than 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have CCOs, which means of course that most CCOs work for small- to mid-sized businesses (SMBs).  While you would expect just the opposite to be true – that the largest companies with the most customers would be at the leading edge of CCO adoption -- there are reasons to explain this dichotomy.  I will explore this phenomenon in a future blog post.

For now, though, I’m going to leave my HP story right here.  I still have a problem printer from my Mac on the HP device. No one from HP has called or emailed since my chat with Jason, but I haven’t called the EVP I know. 

So here’s a challenge for HP: do you have anyone monitoring social media content like blogs to pick up on negative sentiments on your company such as this post?  If I do hear from HP based on this entry, then I’ll reassess my opinion of the value of social media.

In any event, someone from HP should attend my keynote interview at the Next Generation Customer Experience Conference May 23-25 in Los Angeles entitled “The Case for Creating the Chief Customer Officer Role.”  It’s not too far from HP’s headquarters in Palo Alto.

For everyone else, please let me have your thoughts on this blog, and feel free to share your own customer experience examples, good or bad, with the largest organizations.  HP can’t be alone among corporate titans who could use a CCO to improve overall customer relations.  

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Categories: CCO Council | Chief Customer Officer | Customer Retention