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  1.    #1  
    Wow. I called Handspring yesterday afternoon to report the problem with my VisorPhone (broken ringer), and TODAY I received my replacement part! I'm truly impressed by this level of customer service!
  2. #2  
    Yeah, they have truly great customer service.

    A coworker and I (both of us own some worthless HS stock) were talking about this yesterday based on their quarterly report. They are apparently working on the model of "we don't have time to do it right the first time, but we always have time to do it again".

    Just looking at this board, the number of people who have to get units replaced beacause of material defects or failures under warranty is absolutely appalling. I used to work at a little company called Logitech. We made mice, joysticks and cameras (they still do). One of the corporate standards was a drive to reduce tech support calls by increasing product quality. One interesting fact that came out is that a single tech support phone call wipes out the profit for two devices. Obviously reducing tech support instances is incredibly important.

    When you look at HS, not only are they responding to multiple tech support calls for replacement units, they are also paying for shipping (often overnight). They are paying the costs of having units refurbished. If no refurb units are available, they are relacing units with new units.

    I don't see this kind of failure rate among any other PDA manufacturer. Actually Compaq used to have a lot of similar problems with the IPAQ, but they appear to have gotten them straightened out now.

    As a business model this sucks. Without a huge drive to increase product quality across the board, I don't think that HS will ever be profitable. This means they won't be around very long. Don't get me wrong, I love their products and think that they have a lot of potential, but it takes more than innovation and cool products to make a viable company.
  3. #3  
    umm. you do have to consider, that they have sold almost 1.5 million units now. (I actualy=ly think closer to 2 mil, but I'm takeing a small guess)

    If EVERY visorcentral user, had to get a refurb, that's only 9300 of us, that's only a .465% error rate. But not all of us have problems. I bet only about 2000 of the users here have had major problems. You only hear abotu the bad incidences. You hardly ever hear about good stuff - people don't bother posting.. do you see what I mean?
    -Michael Ducker
    TreoCentral Staff
  4. #4  
    Originally posted by miradu2000
    umm. you do have to consider, that they have sold almost 1.5 million units now. (I actualy=ly think closer to 2 mil, but I'm takeing a small guess)

    If EVERY visorcentral user, had to get a refurb, that's only 9300 of us, that's only a .465% error rate. But not all of us have problems. I bet only about 2000 of the users here have had major problems. You only hear abotu the bad incidences. You hardly ever hear about good stuff - people don't bother posting.. do you see what I mean?

    You're right Miradu. I received my Visor as a gift two Christmases ago. I loved it then and love it now. The only problems have been those created by the human interface i.e. me (forgetting to backup, pressing delete, losing my stylus, etc. The few times I've had to call for tech support or other assistance, I've found the Handspring staff to be outstanding: knowledgeable, patient, and helpful.
    Kudos to Handspring (and to Miradu for reminding us that we've chosen an outstanding pda).
    When I get a little money I buy books; if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
  5. #5  
    Hi Mike,

    I think that you missed my point. I wasn't just talking about replacements. I am talking about phone calls. I am talking about people calling (for example) to find out when the color Edge is going to be released. BTW, I think that looking at VC membership might give you a support call number much lower than the population at large since people tend to get basic questions answered here without calling HS.

    Higher volumes of support calls require more people in place to answer them. This requires cubicles, computers, office space, additional server capacity, etc. In Silicon Valley, which is where HS is located, the cost to have an employee runs between $25,00-$30,000 a year. This is what I was told by a friend in finance a few years a go. It may even be higher now.

    Even the Potus, who posted right after you and who is happy with his unit has called tech support a 'few' times. If you work from the theory that one call wipes out the profit for two mice or joysticks. A PDA in the price range of a VDx or Plat might have slightly higher profit, so call it one call, one unit at no profit. If a new user who is satisfied with the product but has a few questions makes two calls. This wipes out the profit on two units, his and someone elses.

    How many times have you called HS with questions? If the answer is one, that probably wiped out any money that they made from you. If you called twice, you took care of my VDx (thanks).

    his is not even trying to figure out how much their very liberal replacement policy costs. I suspect that just the two-way shipping would at least equal the profit from a Prism or Edge. The phone call to set it up is more cost. The cost to refurb a unit is going to take an hour of tech time, plus packaging cost. This alone could be fifty to eighty dollars.

    I'm not saying that everybody that buys a Visor is calling tech support. But I have absolutely no doubt that a signifigant percentage are. By spending an incremental amount to improve out of the box product quality and improved documentation, the amount of support required could be dramatically decreased. Keep in mind, that if you don't make any profit on a unit, you might as well have never made it or sold it in the first place.
  6. #6  
    You have to consider the fact that Handspring is outsourcing their customer service, tech support, and manufacturing. I'm sure that most of the costs involved with defective units is being eaten by the manufacturing company. Tech support might be another matter, as I agree with the theory that more calls equals more tech reps equals more cost per incident.

    I'm sure that Handspring has cost control measures and quality improvement programs in place... if they didn't, they couldn't expect to live very long in today's economy.

    For the record, they've still got the profit they made from my VDx.
    .
    .....
    MarkEagle
    .....<a href="http://discussion.treocentral.com/tcforum/index.php?s=">TreoCentral</a> | <a href="http://discussion.visorcentral.com/vcforum/index.php?s=">VisorCentral</a> Forum Moderator - Forum Guidelines
    .....Sprint PCS Treo 650
    .....God bless America, my home sweet home...
  7. #7  
    Hi Mark,

    Yeah I know they outsource. Outsourced tech support is what my numbers were based on.

    Whether or not they outsource manufacturing makes very little difference except that costs are higher, but flexibility to ramp up and down is increased.

    I hope that they are trying to save money too, but their losses last quarter were huge, and they have yet to have a single profitable quarter (that I am aware of). They can't keep this up forever and I am just making the point that the incredible level of tech support and liberal replacement policy has got to be costing them a huge amount of money. I am not saying that this is the only reason for their losses, but if it accounts for five or ten percent of their losses, it is a cost that they can't afford right now. Heck, if it is responsible for one percent that was three-quarters of a million dollars last quarter.

    If you imnprove testing and lower out of the box failures, along with better documentation that answers most peoples questions without forcing them to make that call, you save lots of money without damaging your reputation. When I bought my Edge, it came with a manual that was the size of a CD and about eight pages long - that's ridiculous.

    The fact that everyone agrees that HS has great customer support is a bad sign. It would be much better if nobody even knew that they had a support group.
  8. #8  
    Originally posted by bradhaak
    If you imnprove testing and lower out of the box failures, along with better documentation that answers most peoples questions without forcing them to make that call, you save lots of money without damaging your reputation. When I bought my Edge, it came with a manual that was the size of a CD and about eight pages long - that's ridiculous.
    Agreed... however, it seems that's the way it is with most devices these days. Heck, when was the last time you got a manual with a software package?

    While I agree with everything you've said, the bottom line is that no matter how well documented or fool-proof an item is made, there are going to be people (and probably a significant number) who either don't bother to take the time to read the manual or just don't get it.

    Tech support is a cost of doing business, I guess. Personally, I almost always use the 'net for my support issues. That's another reason why places like VisorCentral exist... imagine how many per-unit profits we've been able to keep in Handspring's coffers!!!
    .
    .....
    MarkEagle
    .....<a href="http://discussion.treocentral.com/tcforum/index.php?s=">TreoCentral</a> | <a href="http://discussion.visorcentral.com/vcforum/index.php?s=">VisorCentral</a> Forum Moderator - Forum Guidelines
    .....Sprint PCS Treo 650
    .....God bless America, my home sweet home...
  9. #9  
    Originally posted by MarkEagle
    Heck, when was the last time you got a manual with a software package?
    Last December, when I bought Quark, Filemaker, and Norton SystemWorks.
    In my experience, hardware makers and Microsoft are the only companies that have dropped the manuals for their commercial products. Even so, all of the hardware I've bought in the last year or so has included at least a rudimentary "how to start up" handbook.
    The light at the end of your tunnel has been disconnected due to non-payment. Please remit funds immediately for restoration of hope.
  10. #10  
    Originally posted by bradhaak
    Hi Mike,

    Higher volumes of support calls require more people in place to answer them. This requires cubicles, computers, office space, additional server capacity, etc. In Silicon Valley, which is where HS is located, the cost to have an employee runs between $25,00-$30,000 a year. This is what I was told by a friend in finance a few years a go. It may even be higher now.
    Your cost per employee for outsourced support are a little off. I'll let you stick to the $25k-$30k/year figures for an in-house support tech (a few years ago, of course), but outsourced support costs no where near that amount. The type of customer care HS offers can be billed a number of different ways, but unless the outsourcer is giving Handspring's controller a cut off the top, there's little chance they're paying that.

    I'm with Eagle - They're still making money off of my Plat!
    HRdude

    "There's no birthday party for me here!"
  11. #11  
    They're still ahead on my four units also, but not on a lot of others.

    BTW, on a totally seperate note, Fry's got the Sony S320 in yesterday. It looks sweet. The size and styling is between the Plat and the Edge, with the same performance for $199.
  12. #12  
    Originally posted by bradhaak
    Hi Mike,

    I think that you missed my point. I wasn't just talking about replacements. I am talking about phone calls. I am talking about people calling (for example) to find out when the color Edge is going to be released...
    I must have missed your point too

    Rhetorical:
    Why are people calling to find out when the color Edge is going to be released? Is it that they aren't reading handspring.com, don't have net access, anxious about the prospect of new technology, or trying to get the scoop?

    Originally posted by bradhaak
    The fact that everyone agrees that HS has great customer support is a bad sign. It would be much better if nobody even knew that they had a support group.
    Rhetorical:
    Will you buy a product knowing there'll be no one to support it to the best of his/her ability?

    Probably best that more research is done. Unless we have the data and hard numbers, it's best to listen to the facts from the source.

    The problem here is that we are equating number of calls with (hardware) problems that cannot be resolved. We do not have the data that distinguishes between the number of calls about technical defects vs. the number of calls for the quick question (example: setting up a home city in CityTime.) The ratio could surprise us. We have to calculate the success rate of problem resoution.

    Those are valid points made by MarkEagle (manual) and Potus (visor recussitation) and Miradu2000 (ratios.)

    There will always be the need for the human voice on the other end.
    We can't fault Handspring for the varying calls they receive. You have to explain their "model", and then regard many customer service aspects and issues invovled in handling it.

    There is Knowledgebase Improvement they've made publicly available at their site. I say that's a step in the right direction of efficiency as well as R&D. Why is the eight page manual ridiculous? What could 9 pages or more have done for you?

    You also do not have the numbers to show the dynamics in their support department nor the "failure rate" you mentioned.
  13. #13  
    OK - I didn't mean top offend everyone on this thread so badly. I didn't mean to imply that HS might not be doing everything perfectly.

    Yes, I do know a number of people at HS who will remain nameless that have basically told me the same things that I posted.

    Just to see if I was totally crazy, I asked a number of friends and ex-coworkers to take a look at this thread this morning (including one HS employee). They are all people with at least a decade in engineering and engineering support at hi-tech companies in Silicon Valley. They uniformly agreed with my analysis.

    Yes this is hear-say evidence and so not admissable in this court of public opinion, but I honestly don't care. I threw something out for discussion and everybody got caught up in details instead of facts.

    Anybody that can't see that providing better quality will cut down returns (I have had returnable failures on 3 out of 4 Visors that I have bought), or that providing better documentation and tutorials will lower tech support calls, is not someone worth having this conversation with.

    I am still a great supporter of HS, but based on their balance sheet, none of us may be for long.
  14. #14  
    Originally posted by MarkEagle
    Heck, when was the last time you got a manual with a software package?
    When I bought the Adobe Web Collection. Came with a manual for each piece of software.

    Got a Manual for Black & White too.

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