Monday, September 14, 2009

Lessons in Customer Satisfaction :Dellstyle

Yesterday I lost 8 hours of my life. One of my favorite days of the year - opening day of the NFL season - was completely ruined when I made the mistake of calling Dell to attempt to resolve a technical issue . The support session lasted several hours ( read 8) and was completely futile. I dealt with first level support people. I dealt with second level support people. I was disconnected numerous times. Sometimes they called back; sometimes I got to start the whole process over again. Some insisted they had fixed the problem; some charged me. Several tried to sell me ad on services ( extended support and new virus protection for example) All wanted to repeat painful steps taken by previous support techs. I finished my eight hour stint talking with a supervisor who finally refunded my tech support money and then took glee in taunting me that Dell was no longer going to help resolve my issues! It seems to me that they hired the most arrogant, know nothing, support people on the planet to man the operation.

During my full 8 hour day on the phone I discovered one of the many reasons why outsourced tech support sucks -the rep has a decision tree and script they have to read from. What this means to the average customer is that no matter how many times you call support for the same issue, they always ask you the same questions over and over and over again. It appears that they are not allowed to go "off-script" or use any other resource than what Dell provides them regardless of what common sensce might dictate.

In the classic old school business structure, where you walked in and bought something then walked back in when a problem arose, nobody would EVER consider doing what Dell does, because within a few months everybody in town would know the business did that and nobody would shop there.

Dell counts on the anonymity of online/phone transactions, and their ability to stonewall you precisely because you CAN'T walk in, to basically rob people. In the classic structure, a single pissed off customer costs the business 100 customers. Each piss off will tell at least 10 people, who will each tell 10 more. Under Dell's business plan, they will piss off masses of people, figuring the money they stole will pay for ads to entice another 100 people who don't yet know what charlatans they are.

Yes, they actually operate that way and believe it will succeed. At least for THIS fiscal quarter, which is all they EVER consider. Once the darling of NASDAQ, Dell will soon be the subject of business texts titled "Don't let Dell happen to you".


1) An unhappy customer will bad-mouth you to everyone they know. (see above)

2) It’s a lot easier to retain your current customers than to acquire new ones.

3) The cheapest way to grow you business is though positive word-of-mouth from satisfied customers.

It’s truly mind-boggling how many large corporations ignore these three basics!

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