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Goodbye, Lenovo

If you are into process management, you don’t see services. You see the processes behind them. And even though I was just an ordinary customer, I could see that Lenovo has some key processes that are seriously broken.

Disclaimer: This text isn’t a lament from an angry customer, but rather a reflection of one customer’s experience which was determined by process flaws. The complaint itself went well and I have nothing to moan about there.

My old laptop died, so I went and bought a new Lenovo ThinkPad L580. The thin chassis made of black plastic combined with a powerful i7 processor wasn’t the right choice though:

Hot air was blowing from the right vent of the fan directly onto my right hand holding a mouse. And when I placed my hands onto the keyboard, the i7 processor located just under my right wrist was overheating under the load to the point where I felt like I was typing on a heater.

So it made me wonder:

  • How could Lenovo put a laptop with such bad heat management on the market?
  • Don’t they have some “not-to-do” list of previous construction mistakes to avoid?
  • Does Lenovo have an autonomous process for testing prototypes to correct ill-conceived product designs?
  • And if it does, why is the vent for the fan on the right side, where most people hold their mouse, and why is the processor exactly where it would be felt by the user?
  • And if my particular laptop was overheating that much, how could it leave the factory in the first place? A well designed stress test would reveal such overheating easily.

These problems aren’t expensive to detect and fix, nor does it take exceptional intelligence to do so. It only takes properly implemented and reliable business processes. And it’s not a trifle. The brand’s reputation is at stake.

Even more curious to me is that according to a heatmap published in the review by the renowned webzine NotebookCheck the heat problem extends also to the higher model T580. Although that one has the vent of the fan on the left side, the keyboard area can get as hot as a tropical 43,5°C (107 F):

Lenovo T580 stress test heatmap Source:

Right after diagnosing the problem, I contacted the seller, who recommended me to file a fast DOA complaint through a national Lenovo partner. There I was first promised a fast resolution by some lady over the phone. But later, her less agreeable colleague told me after the arrival and diagnosing of my laptop that the heat is a feature and not a flaw. — Excuse me? So I’ve bought a heater instead of a laptop?!

Thus, I pointed out to the gentleman that this is not what the customer support for business laptops should look like and that his duty is to help the customers. I have also stressed that if my complaint was denied, it would leave me no other option than to send a complaint directly to Lenovo. He called me back in a few minutes and suddenly nothing was a problem. He did a complete 180°, even suggested another round of testing and within two weeks my complaint was resolved to my satisfaction by a full refund.

Yet it made me wonder again:

  • Why wasn’t there someone from the very beginning to express Lenovo’s commitment to resolve my obvious problem with a new $1,800 laptop?
  • How is it possible, that the “support” could initially promise a quick resolution and then have another staff member claim it is a feature? Don’t they have a CRM to be at least consistent in their communication?
  • Why is the ticketing support system unavailable most of the day and showing errors? And why was the ticket full of incomprehensible technical jargon?
  • Why does Lenovo outsource its customer care into the hands of such an incompetent local partner? Don’t they have a reliable process to choose and control the quality of their local support?
  • Why, after I have filled out a form sent from Lenovo EMEA Customer Experience and complained about my problems with the local support, wasn’t there someone to contact me immediately to restore my confidence in the company’s reputation?
  • Why hasn’t anyone apologized to me during all this for the problem with a new product and troubles it has caused me? Not to mention offered me some compensation for the time lost.

Customer care isn’t difficult with competent staff and a strong process structure. But if one chooses to outsource it (and the brand’s reputation with it) into someone’s hands, it is absolutely crucial to guard the customer experience by something more than a stupid form send in an email full of grammatical mistakes, to which there is no follow-up reply anyway. It tells another story about the company and its culture.

Would I buy another laptop by Lenovo after this experience? Only under the condition that the whole company was running like a Swiss watch. At the moment it looks rather like a game of Chinese roulette.

Robert Vlach, August 13, 2018

Business consultant, writer and EUpreneur. Proud founder of Procesoid and Na volne noze — one of the largest national freelance communities in Europe

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