Thursday, December 6, 2007
Dell - The Great Company that Was
I usually write about my own business, but today I decided to change things up a bit. I think I'll do this every once in a while. Especially when I read something that gets me thinking. I read an article this morning about how Dell is now selling their computers in Best Buy as a way to improve their eroding market share. Well, this is my open letter to Michael Dell. Summation - Bad Idea. Not gonna work. Get back to your roots!
Hey. Heard things weren't going so well at Dell these days? You're market share has apparently fallen a few points this year. That's unusual. Wonder what it is? I wanted to let you know that moving into additional distribution channels isn't going to stop this erosion. In fact, I think if you looked at what made Dell so great, for so long, you'd realize that there are other changes that need to take place. Changes that will take you back to your roots.
I've been a Dell customer. Er, I used to be a Dell customer, for about 15 years, give or take. I swore by Dell. I would only buy Dell. And I would recommend Dell to anyone who would listen. Oh how times have changed. I've spun the proverbial 180. Now I tell people not to buy Dell. Not to think about buying Dell. And I tell people who don't even ask.
This is how it happened: When I used to love Dell, it was for a variety of reasons. Their machines were entirely configurable. Awesome. Their prices were best in class as well. But more than that, it was their level and quality of service. They were available 24/7 to help with any problems, to provide any advice, to help with setups, or, if you were really lame, for someone to talk to. You could send broken machines back without hassles, get recommendations, and the machines lasted forever. They were a complete pleasure to deal with. And that made them great. I loved Dell!
This is what happens now: When I call Dell, normally for technical issues these days, they are a complete nuisance. I don't mind the fact that they are outsourcing their call centers. In fact, I'm all for outsourcing in general (it makes America more creative). But when you're outsourcing and using VoIP, it shows a lack of attention to detail. It shows cutting costs. It shows cutting corners. And it shows that you aren't paying attention to the customer's experience. I can't stand the delay in VoIP. I can't stand having to say "what?" 50 times a call. Especially when you're trying to solve a problem and there is lots of back and forth. I can't stand customer support that doesn't know their own technology. You know what else I can't stand? When a company sends you to a thousand different departments just so you can speak with the right person. Nobody knows what's going on. They also ask you to enter service tags and service codes on the keypad and then ask again when they answer the phone. WHY DO YOU DO THAT?! Now this has been going on for a while, but recently it came to a head. My 2.5 yr. old laptop was acting up. In fact, it was burning my legs when it rested in my lap. Now they call it a laptop, partially, because you can use it in your lap, usually without having to worry about 2nd degree burns. I called Dell to tell them about the problem. It took about 4 weeks, various phone calls, and an argument that I felt would have come to blows if we were in the same room. It should have been embarrassing for them. The told me supervisors weren't available, that they couldn't even speak to me since it was out of warranty, etc. If I had burned myself, I'm sure Dell would have enjoyed that lawsuit and listened to me then.
I've had many other calls to the Dell Helpdesk besides this. My mom's computer was on the fritz. My dad had keyboard/mousepad breaking on his laptop - all within the last few years. And I was the one to deal with customer service. And I hated it.
Saving money on using VoIP, for example, will NOT save you money in the long run. Hiring staff that isn't knowledgeable about your technology won't work either. It will make reliable customers like me leave. And leave I will. Next laptop will be either an IBM/Lenovo or an HP. They just feel like real computers too. This flimsy Dell in my lap feels like it could fall apart at any minute.
Anyway, best of luck. Should you go back to your roots, think of what made you guys great and what's making you guys lose right now. Your customers.