Tag Archives: Lenovo

Lenovo’s Marketing Team Gets it

I finally got my new laptop today, and it truly is a thing of beauty. You know how the doors close on a really solid car, with a "whoosh" and a thump that conveys confidence and quality? The Thinkpad has that experience when you open it and put your hands on the keyboard. None of that creaky plastic flex that triggers a subconscious fear of dropping it.

I got the T61 with the new Intel chipset, the Core 2 Duo. 2.2 Ghz, 2 Gigs of RAM. Widescreen with integrated web cam. 4.5 pounds. It took me six weeks of waiting when I could have had a Dell on the spot, but it was well worth the wait. I mean, if you were paying the same price, would you take a Volvo on the spot, or wait six weeks for a Porsche?

So let me say a little bit about my experience with Lenovo, which I plan to write up more fully for my blog at MotiveLab, since it’s a case study in the power of social media.

In the first place, Lenovo has done well in staying true to the ThinkPad brand. Anyone who had one under IBM would not want to return to a lesser machine, and at least Lenovo understand’s the quality imperative. My new ThinkPad has the same solid sense of near-invincibility as my 8-year-old 600x. I can easily imagine having this machine another 8 years.

Unfortunately, Lenovo’s supply chain and order management process sucks. There’s no polite way to say it. You can’t maintain a strong market relationship when there’s a steady stream of missed shipping dates and prevarications about "estimated shipping dates". I would hate to see Lenovo’s order abandonment rate. I’m a very loyal ThinkPad fan, but after being strung along three times with shipping delays, I seriously thought about dumping the order and looking at Toshiba. The only thing that saved my order was the quick response to my blog post

Which brings me to Lenovo’s Web Marketing Group. After I had such a lousy experience with their order management, I was blown away by the speed and efficiency of their response to my blog post. Within 12 hours of my initial post, the VP of Web Marketing commented and publicly supplied his personal contact information. What impressed me most, however, was the straightforward approach and honesty of the customer service group. I don’t know if it’s a different group than the front line that handles incoming phone calls, but they didn’t string me along or spin fantasies about my order–and they didn’t offer me any inducements to say nice things about them on my blog. They told me up front that my order might take an additional three weeks to ship, and they responded to my email inquiries honestly until the laptop shipped last week. And that, in the end, is all I really wanted.

If you tell me my order is going to ship in two weeks, missing that date is a huge dent in your credibility–and is much more likely to get me to abandon my order than if you tell me up front that the item is backordered. Continuing to make empty promises is like poking a bear with a stick–and it’s the kind of thing that sparks lots of angry word-of-mouth on the Web. When Lenovo took an honest tack and kept me in the loop on the status of the order, my frustration dissipated noticeably. I wasn’t happy about waiting longer, but at least I knew what to expect. And with that mindset, finally receiving a product of surpassing quality quickly overcame my negative impressions.   

It’s all about managing expectations. And at the risk of starting a political brush fire at Lenovo, I’d say the company at large could learn a lot from their Web Marketing team. 

A Love Letter to the Thinkpad

It’s hard to believe, but I finally did it. I just pulled the trigger on a new notebook computer. This after almost 8 years–yes, you read that right–8 years on an IBM 600 Thinkpad. I don’t know of any product that lasts 8 years these days. It’s even older than my Subaru. But somehow, not only did it keep on running, it kept up with what I needed it to do, running Windows XP and Office 2003 with a removable wireless card that came out 3 years or so after I bought the machine.

Mar07In case your wondering, yes, I used the laptop almost every day. But no, I don’t watch movies or play games on it. I pretty much operate on email, browser, word and powerpoint, though I used to do a fair amount of development on the road with dreamweaver and photoshop. I just never found the need to replace it, especially when the warranty and repairs were so effective. I replaced the keyboard once. I replaced the batteries a few times. I cracked open the case once to fix an audio connection. That’s it. And that includes at least two or three hard drops, and countless "soft" drops in my laptop bag.

But finally the time came for an upgrade, and to honor my incredible experience with the Thinkpad, I stuck with the brand and bought a new Z61T. It looks pretty much the same, except it has a lot more bells and whistles, and a 14-inch screen. I flirted with a Dell, customizing a high-end Latitude before going back to the Lenovo site, but at the end of the day the savings of $250 didn’t make up for the promise of another laptop with proven longevity. I’ve done the cheap route before. I bought an Acer that literally started to fall apart after 8 months. Not much savings when you factor in frequent replacements. And even though Dells are more solid than Acer’s, they can’t hold a candle to the durability of a Thinkpad–you can feel it when you hold the case–and they can’t hold a candle to the customer support.

The last time I called Dell, I wound up on a tech support loop that lasted nearly two weeks, with techs in Bangalore reading through canned support scripts. The last time I called support for my Thinkpad, I had simply forgotten my power cord on a sales trip to St. Louis, and couldn’t find a cord to power up my machine for a major presentation. A service rep found me a repair shop in St Louis where I picked up a used replacement. That’s something you can’t buy with just an extended warranty plan. 

So here’s to my Thinkpad 600. I wish all products were made that well. And I hope Lenovo weathers the transition and maintains the level of quality and service we’ve all come to expect, so I can get 8 years out of my new laptop. And if you’re wondering what I’m going to do with old machine, no, I’m not planning on recycling it. I’m going to stick in the case alongside my dad’s old laptop, one that’s lasted almost 10 times as long as my Thinkpad. It’s a late 1930s Hermes Baby, which my dad lugged around Europe in WWII. God only knows what my son might add to the collection some day.Img_6215