How I lost a Business Opportunity thanks to a laptop!

28 September 2017

Murphys law works and how it played it out in our company. The article is also a lesson for product companies in India who should work at improving their customer support strategies in order to retain customers. This situation in reality has resulted in our company stopping all future purchases from this laptop brand due to this experience.

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Wednesday morning at Star Squared PR had a mood of nervous tension in the air. It should be, considering we were gearing up for a big pitch later in the day. Little did we know then that all our plans would come crashing thanks to a laptop.

Like every routine new business pitch that we undertake, the team had worked on the presentation for the past week and had shared it with me on the previous day. I had in turn worked on it late into the night and had saved it for the final – morning once over.

I was in office at 9 am a little earlier than usual for the finishing touches.
As luck would have it the laptop was refusing to start up even after entering the password. I promptly called up the support centre. The call which began at 9.30 am on the fateful day was just the beginning of a series of episodes that will wreck all opportunities for the impending new business pitch.

My first call to Support

The expert on the other end of the line thanked me the call and continued with his scripted niceties which ironically became the most annoying factor as the day progressed. The line ‘Don’t worry sir we will take care of it’ and ‘I understand sir, please don’t worry’ played out a million times over and over. In fact, I’m going to make it an acronym to avoid repeating it – DWSWWTCI and IUSPDW.
The expert told me that it was not a system issue but a Windows issue and that they will take care of it. He did some trouble shooting with some prompts and commands and then asked me to restart the laptop. And that was it. My laptop refused to accept my password. Repeated tries gave the same result. The expert on the other end was confused and put me on hold several times in the process.

The call that lasted an hour till 10.30 finally ended with his commitment that a service personnel will visit my premises within 3 hours. He also gave me the number of the service centre.
By then my hopes of making it for the meeting began to fade. The problem was that I had made crucial changes to the proposal on the previous night without which we had little or no chance.

My call to the service centre

I was given two numbers to their service centre which I tried for a good 20 mins in the middle of my growing anxiety with respect to the pitch but repeated calls just ended up ringing out without anyone picking up on the other end. When it was finally picked up, the gent at the other end was sounding dismissive saying that he was managing several calls. He then went on to state that he cannot touch my software but only handle the hardware, silly as it may sound I couldn’t but see the lighter side of it. He said if there was anything to do with the data and software I should call the customer support again.
By this time hopes have completely faded about the pitch.

My second call to support

This time it was picked up by another gent, by now I was completely ballistic about being passed around. But I had to repeat my entire story again and I received a lot of DWSWWTCI and IUSPDW, which you are familiar with by now.
The biggest surprise here was that he claimed that it was impossible that the first expert would have committed for 3 hours but for 3 days rather to resolve the issue. This inconsistency was extremely frustrating in my state of mind then.
I told him that I wanted to speak with his supervisor, he puts me on hold with music playing and then just disconnects. WOW!

My decision then to inform the client

I realised then that there was no way I was going to be able to recover the presentation and it was my moral responsibility to inform the client. I called the client then, which was a few hours before the scheduled meeting and explained the situation. The client mentioned that this was a multi agency pitch and while they liked our credentials they cannot proceed with us without the scheduled presentation.
The biggest let down was that we were the most likely to win the pitch since we had the right experience in the category but simply blew it with this mischance.

My next call to Customer Support

I called again and had to repeat the whole situation with a lot of frustration and I again received a lot of DWSWWTCI and IUSPDW. But the tone of the of the DWSWWTCI and IUSPDW was soon changing to that of borderline irritation. She also mentioned that it wouldn’t have been 3 hours to send the service engineer but 3 days rather.
Nevertheless, I explained myself all over again and told her that I must speak with her supervisor and that her responses were nothing but helpful since she was simply following a script without any meaning.

Then enters her supervisor into the picture, who again gives me a lot of DWSWWTCI and IUSPDW all over again. He then tries a different approach and tells me that the service engineer will drop in soon but I need a external hard disk to back up the files in my system before reinstalling. By now it was clear I have to reinstall the OS, all this for a something which was caused by the their support centre executive who did the trouble shooting from a remote location in the first place.

Well by then I had resigned myself to my fate. The biggest let down though, was when the so called senior supervisor promises to call me back at 1 pm to help me with the data transfer to my external had disk and also promised me that a service engineer will be at my doorstep for the reinstallation at 3 pm. Believe it or not, I have received no call whatsoever after that. I was left twiddling my thumbs till kingdom come.

My last resort

After waiting till 2 pm, I had not received any calls from the service engineer or the support centre. By now I was reduced to a muddle as I had lost my possible client but was also losing my mental balance as the laptop, a brand new one that was purchased only 40 days ago was still not working.
I then decided to go to the store where I bought the laptop from originally along with several others in the first place. Here I unleashed my frustration once again but in a calm and composed manner. The executives here fortunately where very helpful but introduced me to another person who they said was an engineer. Now he explained the process in a patronizing way again and connected me to another support centre. The lady at the other end was equally non-supportive and said that she was from a different centre or something of that sort. I later found that this person was in really an executive from the laptop company who interestingly never disclosed this fact during my entire 30-minute exchange with him and surreptitiously disappeared without a trace.
Now I was left at the mercy of the store who were in fact quite supportive. They offered to take my laptop to the service centre and then return it to my office or where I am. This I felt was the only small saving grace in my otherwise depressing day.

Biggest learning

From my new business pitch perspective, this was a huge learning for me and me my team. Never trust technology completely during critical events. Another example is the recent Apples Iphone X launch debacle. The face recognition refused to work in the launch event.

Always have a backup or share it with other before shutting down. You can either mail it to yourself or others or use back up storage devices or storage options like Dropbox.

Nevertheless, like the saying goes ‘Every failure is a lesson well learnt’.