Compaq Australia has announced an unprecedented commitment to customer support and service, following on from its decision to enter the telemarketing sales area - appointing TM Direct to sell Compaq portables and options such as memory (see ARN, July 16, p3).
According to Terry Scerri, Compaq Australia's director of customer support and services, 12 months ago the company had only 15 staff dedicated to telephone support. This number is to be bumped up to 60 within the next six months.
Scerri conceded that the company had encountered difficulty in satisfying the support demands of certain market segments, namely small business and SOHO.
While these areas appear to represent much of rival Dell's market growth, Compaq officials denied that Dell's success poses any threat to Compaq, adding that the company was in no way attempting to emulate Dell.
Compaq's managing director, Ian Penman, said that the company is beginning to reap the benefits of certain strategies conceived over two years ago.
He added that Compaq will sell directly to certain customers, if those organisations demand it. For instance, the Commonwealth Bank refuses to deal with Compaq via the channel, thus the two companies have achieved a mutual arrangement where dealings are conducted face-to-face. Penman said that while these arrangements exist with some of Compaq's customers, on the whole the company continues to rely on the channel for the "fulfilment" of contracts, even though the company may have secured the deal independent of its channel partners.
Compaq's new enthusiasm for customer support is not isolated to the local market, according to Scerri. He said that the company is conducting different projects all over the world, with similar goals in mind: to recapture lost ground in various markets.
He said the US corporate market has been less kind to the company in comparison to the Australian corporate market, although Compaq Australia has slipped in the SOHO and small business markets - both areas to be targeted for improved support and service.
Penman defended the company's performance in Australia, which saw revenues increase 13 per cent, with unit sales up 21 per cent, compared to the US, which saw revenue and unit shipments grow 25 and 42 per cent respectively.
"If you can increase profitability while unit price declines, your distribution model is working," Penman said.