How to Piss Off Customers, By HP

HP here.  Let me tell you a story about how to make a loyal customer want to fly to Palo Alto and personally open that can of Whoop Ass he has been saving on his shelf since the late 90s.

First, entice them with an easy ordering process.  Let them customize a SWEET HP Envy 13.  So far, so good.

Second, give them an “Estimated Build Date” a week out.  Well ok, maybe that isn’t great, but it certainly doesn’t go far enough to make someone angry.  Hey, it’s the holidays and this machine is, after all, sweet.  So no inspired venom yet.

Then, and here is where we get ‘em. 

Step 1)Make the order status page SUCK.  Make the status change from “In production” to “received by factory” the first couple of days randomly.  I love that.

Step2) When the “Estimated Build Date” comes around, DONT CHANGE THE STATUS. Nope, leave it as “In Production”.  Make the customer come back again and again, hitting the f5 key until he has a callous in the desperate hope that that status changes from “In Production” to Shipped.

Step3) Let the “Estimated Build Date” pass.  Say nothing.  Telling a customer the order is delayed – or lost on a container ship at sea – or held up by Columbian customs on the way up from a coca field is so Web 2.0.  We’re HP.  Bite us.

Step4) Next day, still do nothing.  Let the customer contact customer care via text chat.  Let the games begin here – ask the customer questions that he has no desire to answer.  Ask about how his day is going.  Then check on the “Status”.  Wait 4 minutes and make sure the agent tells the customer “The Estimated Build Date is Dec7.”  When the customer says, “Yes, it’s December 8, is the machine built and has it shipped?”, make sure the agent says “We haven’t received a tracking number yet.”  See – we didn’t answer the question – clever, huh? So let the customer ask again: “So….did it get built yesterday?”.  Finally, say “Yes”.  Need to keep the call/text times down, you know.  Make the customer go away but NOT before you try and upsell him on a dock.  That is how you inspire love in your customer service – always go for the upsell at the end of a trouble ticket.

Step5) Make sure the status doesn’t update.  Ever.

Step5.1) One thing we didn’t mention earlier – and I love this – offer “Express 2 day shipping”.  Charge $39.  But somewhere, deep down in the text in terms and conditions, make sure you tell them that customs MIGHT hold the machine for a few days.  But we’re not sure.  You know, because we never ship machines around the world.  How would we know?

Step6) Here is where we pull out the awesome.  Later on the day on Dec 8, have another mail sent to the customer – not from the same customer service agent – mix it up – telling them, “Psych!  The order is delayed because of – you know – component delays.”  I know, I know…we make machines for a living.  You might be asking me, “Hey HP, y’know when you received the order in the queue, you probably knew how many orders you had, how many components you had in stock, and if you could fulfill the orders when you promised (estimated…. hee hee).”  Well I would say to you that you are a stupid man.  We’re talking FIVE Custom components in this machine!  FIVE!  That is like FIVE!  Jesus, what do you want from us!  It’s not like we make fricking machines around here!

Step6.1) But here is the funtimes:  Use this line in your mail to the customer (see below so you can copy for your own CS agents):

Due to product constraints we will be unable to ship your order on the original estimated ship date. The revised estimated ship date for your order is 12/10/2009 or no later than 7 business days from the original estimated ship date.

Isn’t this fucking genius!  We tell them the day after we were supposed to ship it that we aren’t going to and we MIGHT ship it on 12/10 but maybe as late as 12/15.  Hell, we don’t know!  I know, I know.  People shouldn’t expect Amazon-type accuracy when placing an order for a nearly $3k laptop.  At this point, the customer is so perplexed they head back to the order status page to check to see what the hell is going on:

ChaChing!  Remember the initial rule: NO STATUS UPDATES, EVER.

Step7) Try and make up for the incoherence that is our production line by offering a $50 credit for future purchases (maybe that dock we promoted earlier in the CS chat that, as you can now tell, was completely and utterly worthless – but FUN!).  Make sure you fuck up the letter, too, but putting in a Coupon Code of XXXXXX.  That always works in the system!  Suckers!

Finally – this is the most important thing – what does the status say now at 9pm on 12/8?

Boo Yeah.


Ed Note: Yes, this is all true.  And before you say, “Jesus Stefan, seriously?  Is this that big a deal?”  No, of course not.  But I didn’t buy some cheap-o Presario.  I bought their top-end machine.  They are trying to compete with Apple with this baby.  I’m coddled by Amazon where shit just basically works and when it doesn’t, they freak out and comp me shit because they’ve learned that I forgive, but I don’t forget.  And I’m loud both in my support of their awesomeness and critical when companies are spazzes.


One thought on “How to Piss Off Customers, By HP

  1. Hi, i have also ordered a computer, but on the 27th. They said my estimated ship date was today, the ninth and still haven\’t shipped it yet. how did you get the $50 credit because i will do the same. Thanks

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