In 2013's Tech Support Showdown, HP finished dead last among our field of nine major brands. Hoping to improve on last year's C- rating, HP appears to have continued efforts to upgrade its tech support
For this year's Tech Support Showdown, I used an HP Envy X360 15t Touch for testing. I asked the same two questions being used for all eight brands and one question tailored to HP devices, which was about how to sync photos using the HP Connected Photo program.
Web and Social Support
HP's support website looks largely unchanged since its revamp in 2013. From the website you can visit their drivers and downloads page, troubleshoot, and also check their support forums for answers. I had no problem looking up the notebook using the product name, and from there you can download the product's user guide as a first source for information.
HP also offers premium support services in the form of the HP SmartFriend, which includes three options for higher quality support. The pricing for these services seems a little exploitative. HP charges $70 for a 45-minute tutorial on Windows 8, and $100 for one-time "calamity" assistance. Even HP's $14.99 monthly support subscription includes a one-time $35 setup fee. Since most users will not want to pay for tech support, we decided to exclude the premium services from this tech support report.
I dug around in HP's Tech Support Forums to seek answers to my questions. Unfortunately, the forums can be overwhelming to use, with a large number of branching categories. Searching for our questions did not yield any pertinent results.
From the product support page, I click the Contact HP tab, where I chose the live chat system. I was connected to an agent, Jo-Ed, in less than 5 minutes. He helpfully straightened out my issues with HP Connected Photo in less than 20 minutes. Not only did Jo-Ed show me how to sync photos, he also described how it worked, and how HP Connected Photo integrates with Snapfish and Facebook.
In last year's report we noticed that HP had made significant efforts to beef up its social media support. Based on my experience, those efforts have paid off.
I first tweeted at @HPSupport "How do I set up a picture password on my HP Envy x360?" and got a response in 27 minutes, The agent replied with a link to a useful video from the Microsoft website showing how set up a picture password.
Next, I tried posting a question on the HP Product and Services Facebook page. I asked "How can I prevent my laptop from going to sleep when I close the lid?" I waited 2 hours and 20 minutes for a response. However, with the amount of people posting on that page, it was nice to get a response the same day.
An agent named Terry answered my post and swiftly determined my product name and number, and even guided me to delete the serial number from the Facebook conversation. This time I was provided a link to a third-party site, which gave step-by-step directions with supplemental pictures on how to prevent my laptop from going to sleep when closing the lid. The agent was polite and informational.
Last year, we had issues with HP phone support because we received some incorrect information. This time around, we had no problem getting correct responses. The average call time was 25 minutes, and only one out of three times were we given offers to buy additional services or warranties.
My first call took place at 1:24 p.m. on a Wednesday. After 7 minutes on hold, Ajay, in Mumbai, India, answered. He proceeded to remote desktop into my laptop. While he was momentarily confused trying to determine if I was using a local password or Microsoft login, the rep eventually directed me to the correct window needed to set up a picture password.
A couple of times I was put on hold while he conferred with a supervisor. After solving my problem, Ajay tried to sell me an extended warranty. Then, just when I was about to hang up, he elevated my call to a manager named Winston, who again tried to gauge my interest in a longer warranty and additional help. After declining, I hung up the phone after a long 24 minutes and 26 seconds. I must add that although Winston spoke clear English, I had some trouble understanding Ajay.
My second call took place at 2:22 p.m. the following day. I was put on hold for 13 minutes before being helped by Arvin, also located in India. I asked him about preventing my laptop from going to sleep when closing the lid, and he correctly directed me to the power button in the lower right corner of the desktop and then to the lid settings from there. Including just 5 minutes of conversation, the total call time was 18:19
My third call tasked HP Tech support for help syncing my photos with the HP Connected Photo application. I called at 7:28 p.m. on a Sunday, and despite a recorded message saying HP was experiencing higher-than-expected call volume (a message I received during every phone call), I was connected to an agent named Kevin, in Manila, the Philippines, almost immediately.
After some initial confusion between HP Connected Photo and HP Creative Studio, the rep was able to resolve my issue by remotely logging in and directing me to the correct windows. Although it sounded like Kevin was reading from a manual, he was able to resolve my issue.
Overall, I was satisfied with the support from HP across all three phone calls, two social media contacts and live chat. With an average support call lasting 18 minutes and 11 seconds, this was a marked improvement from last year, and HP was able to resolve our issues relatively quickly. The social media team was also responsive, with a Twitter response in just 27 minutes and a same-day response on Facebook.
I had occasional difficulty understanding the agents stationed in India. I could also have done without the pitches to buy extended warranties, and the pricing of the SmartFriend services seems a little excessive in some cases ($100 for one-time assistance!).