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Fool me once …


Sherry Foster is Director of Marketing for Technology Services in HP’s Enterprise Group. She is responsible for delivering the go-to-market strategy, demand generation, communication, sales enablement, and digital marketing for Technology Services across the Americas region. She has been with HP for more than 20 years and has held a variety of marketing and operational supporting all of HP’s business units – enterprise products, services, printing and PCs. Sherry holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Arts (Economics) from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.


It is nothing short of maddening. Unauthorized service providers will say practically anything to get the initial sale. Usually, they’ll insist they provide support for HP products that’s “just as good as HP’s” at a lower cost. And the most maddening part is that all too often, it works. After all, it’s a claim that’s hard to resist. Who doesn’t want to save money? But the real reason it usually succeeds is that it’s hard to prove or disprove. What’s worse, the decision is even hard to undo when proof is found that the claim was just that: only a claim.  

Inaccuracy and inertia
Unauthorized service providers use the double whammy of inaccuracy and inertia to get the business. They know they simply can’t deliver on the claim of providing support that’s just as good as what HP and its authorized service providers can deliver. For example, unauthorized service providers do not have access to the same quality replacement parts or diagnostic tools. Their engineers can’t take the same, in-depth training.  This and other key differences mean there is no way they can deliver on the claim of equal support. But how do you disprove that claim without experiencing the shortcomings of their service first-hand when you need support? By then, it’s too late. You end up with a support experience that’s less than ideal and results that are far from acceptable.  

That’s when unauthorized service providers count on inertia to keep the business. They know that it takes a lot of time and effort in the areas of finance and contract administration to switch the entire environment back to HP support. And they rely on everyone’s dislike of major change to keep the business. “After all,” they hope customers will say, “the service really wasn’t that bad. And look at how much we’re saving.” As I’ll show in upcoming blogs with actual case studies, those “savings” can turn out to be pretty expensive.    

No Fooling
HP has developed a series of questions you can ask potential support providers to help you understand their capabilities and limitations. There are sixteen questions in all, covering seven key areas:  Service Portfolio, People Certification and Training, Tools and Diagnostics, Geographic Coverage, Genuine HP Parts, Infrastructure and Escalation Capabilities, plus Software, Firmware and Patches. Some of the specific questions to ask potential providers include:  

“Are you able to support discrete systems, converged systems, virtualized infrastructures, and cloud-based architectures at the service-level agreements (SLAs) my organization requires?”

“Do you and your service engineers have access to the ongoing training and certification from HP that ensure they have the latest information on how to support HP products?”

“What automation, remote support, and other tools do you leverage—including proactive support?”

“Where do you get service parts? Are they genuine ‘HP Certified’ parts?”

“How do you ensure that all parts have the latest firmware updates, and that chain of custody and parts validation are managed to ensure no counterfeit parts are used in support of a customer?”

You can find the complete set of questions in the HP “Protect Your Business” brochure available here. Armed with the answers to these questions, you can make an informed decision about the best service provider for your organization right from the start. You’ll also be able to quickly see that the promises of unauthorized service providers are usually empty, while HP and its Authorized Service Providers deliver results and true value.  

 - Sherry  

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