by Susan Twombly, April 2009
How do you cut costs without slashing service quality in a tough economy? Just ask one of the Top 25 winners in BusinessWeek’s third annual Customer Service Champs Survey.
Coming in at No. 8, HP was one of only two consumer electronics companies on the list, with high marks in “Quality of Staff” and “Efficiency of Service.”
Here, Tara Bunch, HP’s Worldwide Vice President of Imaging and Printing Customer Support Operations, shares HP’s strategies for expanding customer loyalty in a shrinking economy. That’s no small task for a company that manages more than 345 million support interactions a year.1
HP.com: Congratulations on your ranking in BusinessWeek’s Top 25. What do you attribute HP’s high customer service and support ranking to?
Tara: Our CEO Mark Hurd put a call to action in place a year ago: He wanted HP to achieve best-in-class customer service and support across the company. What’s so exciting about the BusinessWeek ranking is that we are only one year into our three-year plan towards that goal. It’s a great proof point of the progress we’ve made.
Another great indicator is our customer satisfaction rate, which grew by 30 percent in one year.2 That’s what really catapulted us into the high ranking.
HP.com: What are some of the steps you’re taking towards building world-class customer service and support and where are you focusing efforts to get the most impact?
Tara: First, we’re increasing the number of agents who are answering the phones in the US, which can really have a positive impact on customer satisfaction. We’ll continue to monitor and balance call center staffing worldwide where it makes sense and where we can best assist customers.
We’ve also consolidated service partners to a select few world-class, top-tier providers. These partners, along with our internal HP support personnel, can provide us with best in class support capabilities.
HP.com: Many of the top performers in the survey said they’re investing in technology to improve customer service. Tell us more about what HP is doing.
Tara: Many agents use remote diagnostic tools during support calls. Instead of giving customers a lot of cryptic instructions to follow, they “take over” the desktop to identify and fix the problem remotely. Our customer satisfaction ratings on those calls rose by 20 percent. That’s based on the surveys we send out after every call.
We’re also investing in an entirely new interactive voice response (IVR) system so customers can get to an agent faster and more easily.
Further, we provide HP-hosted, user-driven communities where customers can interact with each other online. For example, users tap into the HP Consumer Support Forums to get how-to tips, discuss topics and solve problems. They’re fast becoming a preferred method for customers to find answers.
There are 28,000 registered members and, since November, more than 42,000 posts. It’s a win/win situation: Customers are happy and it’s more cost-effective than a service call by an order of magnitude.
We recently expanded language options for the forums and started to run forum classes where members “Meet the Experts” to learn about setting up home networks, wireless printing or other topics. All this helps show customers that we care about enhancing their experience with HP products – and that builds loyalty in any economy.
HP.com: What’s up for the future as far as keeping the quality of HP service and support high and costs in line?
Tara: We’ll continue to execute on our plan to be No. 1 in service and support. We’re firing on all cylinders and we’ve got great momentum. Remember, we’re only one year into our three-year plan to build a world-class service and support organization and we already made the Top 25 list. Just think about where we’re going to be by year three.
1 Based on phone, email, chat and web support interactions in 2008.
2 Based on figures from February 2008 to February 2009.