Someone told me

HP Printer
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I heard those magic words while doing a little shopping the other day after running my breakfast networking meeting. “Some told me…”.

Of course that is all I heard as I walked by, but I do worry how damaging gossip can be in a business sense. I always think we need to do our own research. Often a bad customer experience may be very isolated in terms of a business’s overall delivery. It is when things go wrong that people talk about the problems much more than when they receive a great service. Ironically, very often a generally exemplary service will start to be taken for granted so that when there is a minor glitch people complain far more than they would if the general service were fairly average but in line with expectations. Hence people are less likely to complain about the mail service merely because our expectations have declined over the years. Our postman is a nice guy incidentally and I wouldn’t want him to be upset. I don’t blame him.

I like Dell computers. I have three. I have always had very good customer service and support from Dell. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do proper research because we have a responsibility to our business and ourselves.

I bought a Dell branded printer a year or so back. I hadn’t done my research. Someone told me he liked his. Maybe his usage of it was very light. The printer was a real dog and far too expensive to run, plus the fax facility never worked reliably. Yes, I know there are alternatives to a fax line but that’s another matter.

I should have found out the printer was made by Lexmark and if so I wouldn’t have bought it. I have now a new HP printer. I had always previously had HP printers. They have been reliable. When one went wrong shortly after I had it, HP replaced it in a couple of days.

If someone told us that someone told them, we need to check the credibility of the story and the context in which it has been passed on. We cannot rely on tittle-tattle re purchases we make because we may not make the best buying decision. We should do our own research and listen to those we trust for recommendations.

I got it wrong with the Dell printer. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their computers. Have you made a buying mistake as I did through lack or research or because someone told you or you told yourself?

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Partnering with others and maintaining standards

I have to say that since I have been running my own businesses I have been fortunate or perhaps just sufficiently prudent to choose the right subcontractors and joint venture partners. Where I have given work to others they have not let me down, though I have had clients who have made mistakes. Often the reason is that they wish to give work to the party quoting the lowest figure rather than vetting or asking for recommendations for the best quality supplier.

I love Dell computers. I have bought three for business in the last couple of years and my wife and I also purchased two as family presents. They are quality products and the customer service is great on the rare occasions one might need it.

This confidence in the products led me to buy a Dell ink-jet printer. I might just have been unlucky in that it has never worked satisfactorily, One thing I can say is that it has been incredibly expensive to run. The ink cartridges are appallingly expensive. They don’t last long. Guess what? Dell don’t make the printers; they are essentially re-branded Lexmark machines and the latter company is notoriously expensive for ink.

We all make mistakes and clearly I should have done my research better. I have now bought an HP printer based on reviews and my good past experience of their products, and I hope for the best. I am assured the cost per page will be far less than the Dell-Lexmark, and anyway I am trying to print less as part my effort for conservation.

Maybe Dell think Lexmark are delivering in price. Are they delivering on customer satisfaction? I think it is a timely reminder for me in choosing the right subcontractors and service providers too. What do you think?

© Jon Stow 2010

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