Published September 3, 1999

HP CRM Strategy: Hewlett Packard History of Customer Service in the 90's

Silicon Valley giant Hewlett-Packard [http://www.hp.com] has decided recently to design and implement a major CRM project to build customer loyalty. The project is an excellent indicator of the value placed by industry leaders on increasing their responsiveness to customer needs. Evidently customer loyalty is beginning to matter for even the largest players.

Hewlett-Packard wanted to provide the timely, high-quality service usually associated with hungry upstarts. To that end, Hewlett Packard's Product Support Division recently developed a system in conjunction with Cambridge Technology Partners [http://www.ctp.com] to deploy 3,000 Product Support Division service agents around the world, each with a comprehensive view of customers and products, and all the information they need resolve complex customer issues.

Specific problems with current customer interaction led to the changes. In recent years, as Hewlett-Packard has had explosive worldwide growth in sales of its personal computing products and printers, it has realized one of its biggest challenges is not in gaining new customers, but keeping old ones. Yet as sales have mushroomed, technical support lines have found themselves overwhelmed and not able to provide the quality, accuracy and consistency of response to callers that many have come to expect.

Hewlett-Packard based its CRM strategy on minimizing the instances where service agents would support a caller without capturing, tracking, or maintaining critical customer and product information. Valuable customer feedback and problem resolutions are lost this way, along with countless opportunities to strengthen customer relationships and build customer loyalty. Kelley Wood, worldwide application development manager for product support at Hewlett-Packard, said one major reason they decided to work with Cambridge was the speed Cambridge promised: "The project was started three days after the contract was awarded."

Hence the Worldwide Customer Care System was born. Hewing to CRM principles, Hewlett-Packard sought first to determine the business case as a guide for prioritizing system functionality. It also chose a technical architecture flexible enough to scale as Hewlett-Packard's call volumes grow -- which is key, since Hewlett-Packard requires a single system across the world, yet one configurable to specific regional business needs.

The system Cambridge helped devise combines integrated customer profile, product and warranty, interaction and support data from numerous systems into a central repository. This "closes the loop" among departments, allowing disparate representatives a coveted "single point of contact" with the customer -- no matter which department answers the call, everyone has access to the same information.

With ready access to customer feedback and product preferences, Hewlett-Packard will be able to create tailored marketing programs and innovative new products -- another goal of CRM. The science of refining products is made much more exact by using a comprehensive database of support issues. Companies with such a resource can quickly identify problems with a given product, enabling them to not only correct the problem and resolve customer issues promptly, but design such problems out of future versions.

Hewlett-Packard and Cambridge have also established a schedule of regular reviews and updates to the system, a crucial ingredient in a successful, long-lived solution. Using a standard methodology to determine business concepts and technical project milestones up front greatly assists in the review process.