Ding Dong Dell

Deary me. Life with Dell just gets better and better. Not 2 hours after I finish writing up my experiences for the IAIDQ Q2 Newsletter then I find myself on the phone to a nice guy from Dell who is asking me about my DVD drive issues (phone call at 15:25 today approx).

I had a feeling of dé ja vú, partly because I spoke to the same guy (or a sound-alike colleague) last Tuesday about that issue and agreed that it was resolved to my satisfaction. On Tuesday I tried to get a word in about my ongoing graphics card issue but was politely told to ‘send a email’.

Today however I was transferred to the supervisor, whose name I took to be Samuel. Nice guy. very focussed on finding out my issues. He went into some detail explaining how ATI graphics cards take additional memory from the main system RAM as required so while it might be 128MB it can take extra from the system… then he realised I’d ordered 256MB dedicated video RAM and he became even more helpful and looked into it further.

45 seconds later he came back to me to confirm that Customer Service had sent me a 128MB graphics card in error and that he would follow up and take care of it and would call me back on Monday.

Now… what could be the root cause for someone in a call centre selecting the wrong thing from a list? Could it be that the systems and processes that exist for Dell service are not supportive of the staff’s best efforts to do their job right? If the system relies on a pick list or an alphabetic search then it is possible that this is a source of error in the process.

All I know is that I have yet to talk to a Customer Service rep in Dell who sounds like they have a lot of pride in their work anymore. Samuel was the exception in recent times. Lucy (the tech support person I dealt with on day 1 about my DVD issues) was bright and perky but as a former call centre jockey myself I could sense an underlying tone of “we’ve been dropped in it again, why do I bother”.

My experience is that Dell Customer service staff are all nice people who are trying to do the best job they can under pressure. I’ve been there myself as a call centre agent and supervisor – I know how it feels when the sytems don’t work, the data is wrong and the customer is furious at you – the representative of the behemoth. It is not a nice place to be in and it makes it hard to take pride in your work and be proud of who you work for. As a result, when you do spot the easy idea to help make things better you think “why should I bother? management don’t”

My experience of errors and cockups from Dell suggests that the systems and processes that these people have to support them are letting them down. Poor quality processes, poor quality information and an increasing worry about the bottom line and profitability all weighs heavily on morale and pride. More importantly it drains money out of the organisation.

I look forward to Monday. I may be naive but I am putting my trust in Samuel to follow through on his promise to sort this problem out. He sounded a bit shocked when he came back after looking at my customer service history. If they get it right this time then I might refrain from putting all of this into a conference presentation on the costs and impacts of poor Information Quality.

Then again, maybe not. I could fill 3 hours at this stage.

Current estimated cost of rework to deliver the laptop I ordered (ignoring warranty replacement of a defective dvd drive) is approx 44% of the purchase price of the laptop. No wonder margins are slipping in Dell.