HP Optimizes Small Business Services

By Patricia Fusco | Posted April 03, 2003

It's Sunday night and the inevitable happens. You've stopped by the office to get a jump-start on the week and print the month-end reports everybody expects to see first thing Monday morning. Only the printer isn't cooperating — it just keeps shooting out blank page after page while your PC informs you that the print job is done. Only it's not done, it's undone, and your asking were you can turn for help?

If it's an HP printer, now you can turn to the Web for living, breathing customer support — even on a Sunday night.

HP debuted its new Printing and Imaging Expertise Center this week, where small business customers have a choice around-the-clock support on the Web or over the phone through a toll-free number (800 HPINVENT).

Just when many vendors are cutting back on support personnel and limiting hours of availability, why rededicate critical company resources to improving customer services for small businesses? According to Rob Wait, U.S. Commercial Marketing Manager for HP, it's because serving the small business market is the place to be.

"The small- to medium-sized (SMB) market is extremely vibrant," Wait said. "It's growing two- or three-percent faster than any other market segment for printing and imaging equipment."

Wait said HP has been working on the customer support project for over a year in order to serve small businesses directly, rather than through a reseller.

"We're trying to be a good consultant that says to small businesses 'you're important to us.' We haven't been able to serve small businesses directly in the past, but now through Webinars, chat tools, and 24x7 phone support, we can build a relationship with small businesses," Wait said.

Intuitive and Interactive
In addition to providing direct access to qualified support specialists, the enhanced HP Printing and Imaging Expertise Center has been redesigned to help small businesses make better buying decisions.

The revamped HP support site offers innovative features to help small businesses select the most appropriate imaging and printing products based on their business needs — not just provide an acronym-laden product listing of meaningless specifications that boggle the non-technically inclined.

The support site is intuitive — you tell HP your business needs to print small quantities of crisp black and white technical diagrams and you'll get a different recommendation then telling the online consultant that you need a workhorse of a printer that can keep up with your publishing team.

In addition to these product selection tools, the HP Printing and Imaging Expertise Center offers free training courses, product driver updates, special rebates and rewards programs.

The driver downloads are particularly impressive. Not only is the listing expansive, it's capable of analyzing which driver you need over the Web. No more hunting and hoping that you've downloaded the correct driver to get your printer moving, the HP Printing and Imaging Expertise Center does the legwork for you.

Better Performance, Lower Prices
This week HP also upped the performance capabilities of two of its most popular printers. The HP LaserJet 1300 and 2300 are new replacements for the 1200 and 2200, respectively. Compared to their predecessors, the LaserJet 1300 and 2300 printers offer more features and greater flexibility — capable of adapting to changing environments and small business printing needs.

Priced at $399, the HP LaserJet 1300 series printers deliver up to 20 pages per minute (ppm) and a first-page-out in less than eight seconds. That's five-pages faster than the LaserJet 1200 and two seconds faster out of the gate. The LaserJet 1300 also has two-times the base memory of the 1200, up from 8MB to 16MB.

Available in two models — one with networking built in and one intended for direct-connect use — Anneliese Olson, HP shared printing category manager, said the HP LaserJet 1300 is a scalable printer that functions well in both environments.

"The HP LaserJet 1300 can be used in shared and non-shared environments," Olson said. "It's flexible enough to be used as a personal printer in a home office or as a shared printer in a small office setting."

Starting at $549, the HP LaserJet 2300 printer series is highly scalable unit with six different expandability options — including print trays, memory expansion and wireless connectivity — to adapt and serve nearly any type of small business setting. With a print speed of up to 25 ppm the and a first-page-output in less than 10 seconds, the HP LaserJet 2300 is a monochrome workhorse that offers fine print resolution of 1,200 dots-per-inch.

Olson said the speed and performance enhancements are just part of HP's small businesses allure.

"Small businesses need to get the most out of their assets and still have the flexibility to grow," Olson said. "For example, the LaserJet 2300 has two open DIMM slots to add memory. This comes in handy for adding third-party solutions to the printer, such as customized check or invoice printing capabilities."

Both printers use HP's smart print cartridge technology that can eliminate work disruption and printer downtime. Smart print cartridges employ HP's Internet Enabled Supplies Ordering technology — a system that allows users to view toner and ink levels. The system alerts users directly when it's time to order pre-selected supplies from the online reseller of their choice.

HP's newly expanded lineup of printing and imaging products also provide small- and medium-sized businesses with big savings. Olson said the company is working hard to make its hardware more affordable for small businesses.

"The HP Business Inkjet 2230 printer has been reduced from $299 to $199, the HP LaserJet 1000 printer has been cut from $249 to $199, and the HP LaserJet 4200 series printers have been reduced by $100 on all models," Olson said. "All price cuts are effective immediately."

Businesses of all shapes and sizes feel pressured to streamline operations and minimize IT expenditures this year. One way to optimize office performance is to use the latest technological advancements to reduce operating costs. But new printing and imaging technologies are not free and choosing the right product for your small business is not easy. At least when it comes to printing and imaging equipment from HP, you've got a trusted consultant available when you're ready to do business — anytime, day or night.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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