By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Hewlett-Packard has added the company's Instant Care remote access capability to its Smart Friend and PC Tune Up customer service programs.
By implementing the Instant Care, which was rolled out by HP in September and is now available, the company will be able to make a virtual house call to help its customers.
Janice Liu, HP's customer service manager, said consumers will now receive more bang for their buck when they sign up for either service. People using these fee-based services in the past would be talked through the repair process by an HP technician over the phone, a sometimes laborious process that depended on a customer's PC skills to get the job done. Now the customer simply gives permission for the technician to access the computer and do the work.
Speeding up the process is key, particularly for the Smart Friend service, where customers buy minute-based plans of 45 minutes, $59.99 and 75 minutes $99.99. Smart Friend is not designed to fix problems, but help customers having trouble with third-party software or to figure out how an HP computer or printer works.
PC Tune Up helps people having severe PC trouble such as viruses. There is a $99.99 fee for each use of this service, but with Instant Care the customer will get a great deal more out of the service, Liu said. In addition, the customer is e-mailed the list of steps taken by the technician so he or she can do the job themselves next time.
HP is limiting the amount of exposure given to the Smart Friend and PC Tune Up services for the time being, making them available mainly through the company's customer service line. The services are suggested by the Instant Care service technicians when a consumer has an issue better handled by Smart Friend or PC Tune Up then HP's customer service department.
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