Print 32 comment(s) - last by dever.. on May 13 at 2:37 PM

Dell customer support is fast becoming an oxymoron

Any computer owner that buys retail systems has likely had at least one run in with manufacturer that was lacking in the support area. With the fast growth of Dell, it tends to get the worst press for its customer service, and often the bad press is well deserved.

At the same time, most in the industry and most consumers understand that it’s only the bad service we commonly hear about; people tend to talk about the bad more than the good. Still, even Dell recognizes that it has an issue with its customer support. reports that in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) where computer makers were ranked, Dell scored 74 out of 100 while Apple, the PC leader, scored a rank of 79. In 2000 Dell had its strongest showing with a ranking of 80 showing a decline in satisfaction. Consumer Reports recently ranked tech support with major PC makers and put Apple tech support at the top and it put Dell above average in the tech support arena according to a survey of its subscribers.

What caused the decline in Dell’s customer support? says that it’s a combination of a maturing industry and Dell’s business model. Outsourcing of customer and technical support to other countries -- especially countries where support agents don’t speak native English -- makes things hard on customers.

There is no shortage of PC owners who call tech support only to be connected to someone in India or the Philippines -- where Dell opened a second call center in 2007-- who can barely speak understandable English. Couple the language barrier with customers who often can’t tell a USB port from a modem jack and you have a recipe for unhappy customers. The lower labor costs in India probably save Dell and other computer makers money, but it is doing good to the company’s iamge.

Improving customer satisfaction according to Claes Fornell, head of the ACSI at the University of Michigan, could lie in more customization options for consumers. Customer satisfaction is measured in three ways says -- price, product quality and service.  Fornell says, “The one that's the most critical of all is rarely discussed. The fit between the customer’s specific needs and wants and what the company is offering.”

Dell started off with custom, made-to-order PCs shipped directly to the consumer. As its business model has changed to pre-built computers offered at retail locations some users end up with systems that simply don't meet their needs or expectations. This leads to the feeling by consumers that the system is not reliable and more calls to customer or technical support. According to Dell, 80% of the calls it receives end with no finding of fault in the computer hardware.

In other words, the majority of calls to Dell support are from user error or the computer in question simply not being right for the task the customer is trying to accomplish. More customization would allow systems more tailored to customer needs possibly resulting in less calls to support and happier customers.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: _Not Convinced_
By SavagePotato on 5/9/2008 4:14:22 PM , Rating: 2
Some people are proud of the fact they are computer illiterate.

That phrase (I'm computer illiterate) is something I hear on a daily basis. I've come to the conclusion through observation that this is a badge of honor to some people. They hate computers, they feel offended they are expected to use them, and they want to refuse to learn about them as much as possible.

The other day I was waiting for the ATM and the guy at the front was just hamming it up for his buddy behind him. Some middle aged obviously technology hating person. Couldn't manage to master getting $20 from the machine and ended up spitting out the card twice and starting over. The entire time going on about how technologically challenged he was and cutting down all that crazy newfangled technological stuff that makes life so hard.

I talk to so many people in a day who just have their brain turned off. If you put something on a computer screen it's like a switch immediately flips in their head and it becomes insurmountable to even understand things like how to spell in the process of troubleshooting.(have you ever had to phonetically spell CMD? I sure have.)

My own father was a good example. He was someone that could rebuild an engine, but he couldn't master changing the channel on satellite TV. If someone even suggested he learn to use a computer he would get a look on his face like he wanted to punch them.

RE: _Not Convinced_
By retrospooty on 5/10/2008 2:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
You are right... Alot of people do turn off that switch when it comes to electronics. If they would just give it an honest try, they would be able to deal with it just fine.

RE: _Not Convinced_
By nekobawt on 5/12/2008 11:27:04 AM , Rating: 2
Kinda feels like the idiocracy is just around the corner. Seems like a lot of people wear their ignorance like a badge on their sleeve.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
Related Articles

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki