Lenovo’s tech support slipped in last year’s survey, but the company says it has made some improvements. For example, the brand has integrated its forum and case-management system to help communicate important product issues to its engineering teams so they can deliver solutions more quickly. Lenovo’s premium support option is now also available for its ThinkPad line of products, adding to existing support for its IdeaPad products. However, it will cost you $89 for a one-time assistance or $179 for a full year of software support.
According to the company, Lenovo hired five full-time social media agents in July to review some 800 tweets per week sent to its Twitter support handle, @lenovohelp. The company added that it hopes to add a similar support channel via Facebook in the near future.
Along with our questions on how to pair Bluetooth speakers and set up different user accounts, we asked Lenovo how to use its Motion Control feature to skip through music in Windows 8.
MORE: Best Laptops 2013
“Less is more” is a lesson Lenovo needs to learn with its support website. The company’s support page is cluttered with multiple menus, ads, arrows and portals competing for your attention. Once you manage to zero in on the main support portal, you get to choose from four options: Drivers & Software, Guides & Manuals, Diagnose & Fix, and Warranty & Services.
To find out how to set up user accounts, the Guides & Manuals prompted us for our specific laptop. After minutes spent scrolling through tutorials, we found a page called “Set up your kids’ accounts in Family Safety.” We found no solution under Diagnose & Fix when we searched for “user accounts,” but we did find “A quick way to pair Bluetooth keyboard and mouse” when we searched for “Bluetooth.”
MORE: 10 Best Lenovo Laptops
Lenovo’s Assisted Search tool is still confusing to use. When we searched for “How to use Bluetooth speakers,” the service returned a list of tutorials, the most relevant of which was “How to turn On/Off Bluetooth devices.” We clicked on that, only to find a guide on enabling Bluetooth on our laptop, not scanning the area for enabled devices.
Lenovo’s Community Knowledge Base forum proved just as futile. Even though we found 182 and 43 articles for “Bluetooth” and “user account,” respectively, we couldn’t find answers to our problems because Lenovo’s forum posts were all for specific models or specific scenarios.
We tweeted @Lenovo for help on setting up Bluetooth speakers, but got no response. When we tried @LenovoHelp to ask how to set up a different user account on our IdeaPad, we got an answer in a minute, saying it depended on the version of Windows we were using. @LenovoHelp also referred us to @LenovoForums for tech support, but we received no response. On Facebook, our question to Lenovo on how to extend our laptop’s battery life only prompted a helpful comment from another user, not the manufacturer.
The company’s Live Chat service does not provide tech support and only assists those with sales-related issues.
Lenovo’s average call time quadrupled to about 50 minutes from its 12-minute average from last year. The company’s call center for its ThinkPad products is in Atlanta, while the one for its IdeaPad line is in the Philippines.
We asked Ace in the Philippines at 4:30 p.m. EDT how to use Motion Control to skip through music on our IdeaPad U430 Touch. After getting our information, he put us on hold for about 2 minutes before directing us to Lenovo’s support website to download drivers. When that didn’t resolve the issue, Ace transferred us to the hardware department so it could remotely access our machine. Call quality was spotty overall, and Frances in the hardware department asked repeatedly if we were having a touchpad problem. Neither Ace nor Frances seemed to know what Lenovo’s Motion Control was.
We couldn’t download the remote-assistant program that Frances mentioned due to our own Wi-Fi connectivity issues, so she went the old-fashioned route and talked us through it over the phone. After putting us on hold a few times for several minutes each time, Frances finally helped us enable Motion Control. The call lasted 59 minutes.
Our second call to Lenovo was similarly frustrating, and took an agonizing 42 minutes. When we asked Eli how to set up Bluetooth speakers, he quickly took our information, put us on hold for 2 minutes and then transferred us to a technical-support specialist. Danny took over and requested access to our computer via 123rescue.com. When we asked if we could opt not to download the program, Danny said there was “no way else to do it.”
It took 15 minutes to install the remote-assistant program and grant Danny access. He looked around our laptop for a while, searching for “Bluetooth,” “Control Panel” and “Services,” finally streaming music out of our speakers, which we confirmed over the phone.
MORE: Best Tablets 2013
We called Lenovo a third time around 8 p.m. EDT and asked Ron how to set up user accounts on our laptop. He said we could do that in Control Panel, but for more guidance, we would need to pay for premium software support or be transferred to the warranty department. Ron explained that we had called the premium support line (oddly, the same number for standard IdeaPad support on Lenovo’s website). We did not want to pay, so he put us through to the warranty department after saying we might be directed back to his department if our problem was out of the warranty team’s scope.
After 18 minutes of elevator music, Tristan told us he couldn’t help, as he was with the hardware department. He set up a case request and said the premium-care support team would call in an hour or two. When we tried to confirm if we had to pay for that, he insisted on sending the case back to them so we could be “assisted by a phone expert in software.” This call lasted 47 minutes. After several days, we had yet to receive a response from the team.
Lenovo’s Philippines-based call center brought down its overall performance from previous years. Whether we were waiting on hold, getting the runaround from one department to another or having premium support pitched to us, it just wasn’t a satisfactory experience. The company’s website proved difficult to navigate, it lacks live-chat support and Lenovo Assisted Search proved confusing. Although Lenovo’s social media performance has improved, providing quick answers on Twitter, the brand’s Facebook support presence has yet to come online. Generally speaking, Lenovo’s tech support continues to head in the wrong direction.