by August 13, 2001 0 comments

Last month I took a break from many of the things that I normally end up doing, like meeting people and planning and the like, and spent most of my time handling reader mail-the mail that you send to Normally, that mail gets split amongst many of us; but for a change I decided to do it myself for a month. If you are wondering why, the answer is simple. I had to get back to the basics, and to the needs and problems of everyday computer usage. 

Our story starts in Australia, with Alan. Alan had a dual-processor Asus motherboard without the requisite clamps. Hunting on the Net, he came across our article on setting up dual processors, and promptly sent us a mail asking whether we could help him. Without much hope, I forwarded his mail to someone at Asus, Taiwan, someone who was in their advertising division, whom I had never corresponded with before.

Three days later, both Alan and I had the answer, including part numbers and vendor contacts in Australia. And someone else at Asus had instructions to check out the Web page to see if “the content was correct”.

Somewhere around the same time, there were two other questions from India that I had to forward to respective companies. The first was from Mahesh Chandra, a long-time PCQuest reader, who was having problems with his HP scanner.

Apparently, his requests for help from his vendor and HP at Hyderabad did not yield any results. Emboldened by the Asus experience, I forwarded this one to HP India’s PR agency (even while separately pointing the reader to the URL for updated drivers) with a very simple question-why did the Hyderabad office refuse to help? Almost fifteen days and many follow-ups later, HP contacted the user and confirmed that his problem was indeed what we had predicted-he needed updated drivers.

Similar is the case of another reader, Y N Gupta. This time the problem was with Windows and I forwarded his mail to the PR contact for Microsoft. Fifteen days and many follow-ups later, there is still no sign of a reply.

Incidentally, both Chandra and Gupta hold very senior positions and probably end up deciding about the purchase of quite a lot of IT equipment. If this is the type of treatment they get, then I shudder to think what us lesser mortals can expect.

Microsoft and HP are just examples that came my way. It could as easily have been any other company operating in the subcontinent. The long and short of it boils down to one simple question: Why do we have such a horrible record of handling genuine customer needs? Why is the customer a bad word once he has paid up?

More important, can we spruce up our act and provide a better customer experience for our products?

Is anyone listening?

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