American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Results


I know everyone’s attention is rightfully focused on the battery recall, but wanted to get this post out there in conjunction with the release of the latest results from the University of Michigan ACSI study. Recent stories by Bloomberg and BusinessWeek discuss the results in more detail. Yesterday, I blogged about Dell’s internal survey process. While we all use differing methodologies, it is good to see some forward movement: according to the ACSI results, our overall score improved 5.4% from the survey a year ago. By our internal numbers, we’re starting to see some improvements as well… call transfers are down about 45% since Q4; since Q2 last year, the number of incoming technical support calls is down 13 percent, even as the installed user base has grown. This means we’re getting better at resolving issues the first time. All of this is encouraging, but we recognize that we still have a ways to go.

This is an uncharacteristically brief post for me, but I wanted to make sure and get this info in your hands. At this moment I am actually on the other side of the world visiting my colleagues in Asia. We will spend 3 days in Penang, Malaysia reviewing the current plans for improving the overall customer experience, sharing best practices and determining what we should work on next. Penang hosts a large manufacturing facility that builds systems for most of Asia including Japan and Australia and points in between. I will also be in Singapore where we have several Design Centers as well as Asia Corporate Headquarters. Our Asia teams have been making steady improvements in overall customer service. At Dell, we always feel it is important to learn from the groups that are doing well and help transport that info to teams who may be further behind.

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19 thoughts on “American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Results

  1. Congratulations to all of you at Dell for improving your ACSi score. The reduced initial wait time to reach a representative has decreased noticeably in my opinion. As has the Dell service reps willingness to stay on the phone or web support chat, until there is no further route to explore for a solution or there is a resolution actually reached.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits of the new training that support reps are receiving at Dell, through the life of my Dell products.


  2. Just wondered if you now send an e-mail with a shipment traking url when a customer order leaves your wharehouse.

    The last time I bought a (desktop) pc from you, I found out that my computer was sitting at the post office waiting for me.

    I also realized too late that I did not redeem my rebate voucher.

    Improving these processes, I think reduces the number of calls and customer satisfaction.

    Have a good day




  3. To Serge…

    I don’t think Dell does the Post Office thing anymore.  Maybe several folks had bad experiences with it?  Maybe it was an experiment?  But I agree, that was not a great solution. A couple folks I know had some pretty bad experiences with the Post Office pickup, though. And I don’t hear about it much anymore.

    Also, I think you can now file your rebate online now – so that should end some of the procrastinating for folks.  However, every rebate I’ve ever dealt with had to be done within 30 days (or so) of making the purchase (when it wasn’t a buy between X and Y dates rebate).

  4. I run a repair shop. I have many customers under warranty and not bringing in problems they need Dell’s help to resolve. They ask me to take over when they feel stuck and are no longer making progress with Dell. I would say conditions with tech support are deteriorating not improving. I deal with Dell technical support on a regular basis. While as recently as a year ago, I still found them helpful if frustrating, that is not the case any longer. Email support which used to be helpful is clogged by a program that interprets my queries and does so badly. Phone conversations are frustrating attempts to make myself understood and to understand.  Trying web chat was the worst of the options. Representatives were rude and arrogant, something I find surpirsing because this has not been typical behavior from Dell representatives. In the past, as frustrating as some problems were to resolve, the reps were courteous. If tech support calls to Dell are down, perhaps it is because many customers have decided calling support is a frustrating waste of large amounts of time that rarely gives a good result.

  5. I agree with DH.  Contacts with Reps are extremely frustrating.  I’ve been going to other forums to resolve issues.  One less support call here.

  6. Ms. Bosworth,

        As a PhD in Social Psychology I am fascinated by this site’s apparent versus desired outcome.

        Theoretically (and research supports the theory) interaction results in better understanding of different positions, and a lessening of tension, hostility, and a number of other things that are generally labeled as negative.

         I assume that the desired outcome of the site (in addition to hearing what you already know) is to increase the understanding of different positions, and a lessening of tension, hostility, and a number of other things that are generally labeled as negative.

         What I am perceiving in some threads is an increase in tension, hostility, and frustration.

          I suggest that if participants in the interaction perceive they are either not being listened to, are being dismissed without cause, or being  ignored ….the feeling of frustration will simply increase and the effect is what this site appears to be producing …tension, hostility and a belief that "nobody is listening."

           Forget about the surveys for the moment ….do some statistical analysis of the posts that you are getting on this site  …do some qualitative analysis of the different threads  …report what you are hearing here, seeing here, feeling here and report it here …

           But above all else …..interact (hear and respond) with the participants (customers.)

            As an aside, the customer comments I have been reading seem to be sufficiently of the same mind that it shouldn’t be difficult to"pretend" that ‘Joe’ or ‘Mary’ is sitting there infront of you  — or if that can’t be done,,,,have an assistant "role play" with you  ,,,or even if all else fails get two upper level techs (they understand the concept of interaction) do some ‘ghost writing’

            I get the impression that all the customers posting are trying to get someone to listen to them  ,,,,and the Director’s are here because they were told to be here

    p.s.  I’m curious if you are "Director – WW Customer Experience" — why are you  telling me " Penang hosts a large manufacturing facility that builds systems for most of Asia including Japan and Australia and points in between."


  7. ,,,still puzzling over Bosworth’s statement:  "" Penang hosts a large manufacturing facility that builds systems for most of Asia including Japan and Australia and points in between."

    …is Australia in Asia? — any Australians online?

  8. DH: Please reissue a comment with your contact info (not to be published) so that we can reach you.  Thanks.

  9. Networks: Appreciate your feedback about the responses on our blogs.  I think the psychology of blogs must be fascinating.  Prior to Direct2Dell, I had never posted to a blog and had browsed them only in limited amounts.  The thing I notice about blogs is that people tend to read a lot into the words in a post based on their own perspective.  I definitely did not mean to dismiss Direct2Dell as form of feedback.  I apologize if that is how you (or really anyone) interpreted it.  Rather I wanted to share the details of the formal program we run and how it helps us focus our process improvements.  These are two very different forms of listening.

    You have a great suggestion about analysis of the comments. We do not yet apply formal (i.e. advanced) statistical analysis against it.  We do know that we have thousands of unique visitors a day and have some 500 readers who actively post on the site; many of whom are repeat posters.  We do look at many of the questions for trends and then go find the right expert who could write about it.  For example, there were questions about the software we load on our systems in one of my first posts so I went to the appropriate teams and asked them to post on this.  Now… some may think that I took no actions since I was not the one to respond… but I was aware of what we had already done on this issue so I asked an expert from the team to write about it.  Maybe, I should post that I had done that– but it starts to feel redundant.  I suppose the answer is that it is a balancing act.  

    You are right, the intent is to open a dialogue and for us to have a forum to provide interesting information to our customers.  Ideally, a bit more insight and details than what one might read in a standard press release… an insider’s view so to speak.  I’ve spoken to Lionel who is committed to a two-way dialogue by striking a balance between responding to one-offs vs. weighing in on select topics.  But it is also true that there are several hot topics that generate frustration like the XPS shipping issues.  Unfortunately for us, we are still working through the logistics and it takes longer than what customers wish – all we can do is keep working on these as fast as we can to get them resolved and try to keep everyone aware.  

    Now… to get to your question about Penang.  (OK, I actually don’t understand what your question is so I will answer several questions and hope that I get the right one… please if I am still misinterpreting what you are asking let me know.  As the director of WW (worldwide) customer experience, I work with all of the Dell teams from around the world and in all the functions to develop strategies for improvement.  We feel that all functions play a role in delivering good customer experience and they each have a strategy.  For example, in our manufacturing facilities, it is important that they put processes in place that ensure we deliver products on time and that nothing is missing in the order due to a factory mistake.  So I mentioned that I was in Penang where we have the predominant manufacturing facility for APJ; I actually said Asia (not APJ)  for simplicity sake… but inside Dell we always say APJ – Asia, Pacific, and Japan.  So this facility builds for “most of Asia including Australia and Japan”.  I see you had a second post asking if Australia was in Asia.  Was this what your question was really about?  If yes… then what I was trying to say was that our Penang manufacturing facilities make and deliver products to Australia. Perhaps I should have put “most of Asia, Australia and Japan” and not used the word including.   In fact, I did not even mention China as we have a facility in Xiamen that builds for China.  

    Or maybe… you just didn’t care that I was in Penang and wondered why on earth I even mentioned it (that would be fair… since it was off topic).  I mentioned it just as a point of interest to share some other aspects of Dell.   I find that some readers seem to be interested in little tidbits like this—others find it irritating.  One thing I have learned about blogging is that it is likely an equal number of people enjoy what you write as think you are a fool or defensive. : )

  10. ,,,,reference Penang:  I think I may have been doing two things …(1.) suggesting that what I really would be more interested in (or maybe wish you would be more interested in) was the "Customer Experience" rather than the physical location of the manufacturing facility, and (2.) implying in my second comment that what was more important than Dell’s view of Asia was the End User’s perspective (thus my reference to Australians on-line [[I suspected from my experience with Novell that you were using the Dell shorthand]]

    I am passionate about wanting Dell to resolve some issues that I truly believe are resolvable — and in my own way am PLEADING that the issues be addressed

    And… because of my theoretical perspective I truly believe that Dell "taking the perspective of the customer" would provide insight and reasonable solutions

    —-Your most recent post is the first I’ve seen that indicates you are "listening"  — I applaud you for that — I suggest that a question like "I perceive DH as saying he thinks the the Reps are becoming more rude and arrogant  — anybody else think so?"  would be a beautiful follow-through

    ….and I, and hopefully others will respond with "useful data."  *** I might even tell the story (still ongoing) where a "supervisor" promised to get back to me in two days ,,,and despite repeated attempts to reach him over 45 days ..he never returned my call and ,,,but thats a Very Long Story — but Rude and Arrogant is a reasonable description of Dell’s Attitude ***That is to me a "Customer Experience"

    —if you are aware of these issues, maybe a follow-through might be:  "I am aware that the Reps are becoming more Rude and Arrogant, and DH and Yankee are not the only customers that are looking elswhere — what I need to know is does anybody have any constructive ideas what I can do to change this?"  — and just maybe somebody might have an idea or suggestion you haven’t thought of (have you seen my post regarding Flight Service Stations?)

    *** Please Note: I don’t expect you to respond to all the messages …as noted in some of my other posts ,,,,I actually think you should involve your staff  …let them speak for you and use your name in their posts …..delegation not only makes it possible to accomplish more —-it ALSO brings about "involvement" in finding a ‘solution’

      I truly want Dell to regain its balance (implication is i think Dell has some problems)

    — I appreciate your note

  11. i am completely dissatisfied with the quality of support.  i  have an xps top of the line system with premium support and extended warranty service.  still i get routed to india.  i thought dell brought tech support back to the us.  you should really consider doing that.  it would go a long way toward reducing the hostility people feel toward dell…. or perhaps you want to go the way of gateway.

    i am tired of repeating the same question over and over again… and hanging up over and over again until i finally reach someome with whom i can communicate.

    i cannot even find a telephone number for the executive office to register a complaint or reach the senir tech i had worked with at one time since only  7 digit extensions are now accepted…..

    after 4 dell desktops and 3 lap tops, my next machine will be a mac….

  12. Ms. Bosworth: the middle of the night I realized that maybe it wasn’t your staff  that "we" most need to get involved —-maybe it would be useful to involve the technician that takes seven days to meet the "next day on-site" commitment, or the manager (after taking more than 45 days to respond)  who defends the tech by saying the customer  "misperceives" what "next day on-site" ‘actually means’, or the Rep that says ‘there is no corporate office’ to direct a complaint to

    ….I have a suspicion that they might be able (if willing and motivated) to provide insight into the "Customer Experience"

    p.s.  ooops!!!!   ,,,but "we" need for you and your staff to listen and respond ….surely, Dell doesn’t believe what I described above is an ‘acceptable’ "Customer Experience"

  13. I would rate my "customer experience" with a Dell defective computer as a two on a scale of zero to ten. Dell gets a two only because my calls were answered relatively promptly without that exasperating wait that starts out any conversation with the caller in a bad mood.  Everything else about the experience was filled with frustration and grief. And, I mean everything!

    The price of Dell’s stock, gone down from 32 to 21 and falling, and the analysts negative reports, shows that regardless of how well Dell may say they are doing, the company is having lots of problems with sales.  If my unpleasant experience is anywhere typical then dissatisfied customers are using the only means the have of getting even. Why aren’t you using that means instead of griping about it here?

    I understand the purpose of this blog is to give badly treated customers a place to vent where they think that someone really cares. But, what I want to know is who are the rest of the "500 readers" as stated by the executive in her blog?  I mean, what could you possibly get from the patronizing platitudes supposedly written by a globe-trotting busy executive? Or, are you just company shills pretending to be customers?  I would be really interested to read your posts as to why you would bother to return to this vanity blog if you had no gripe.

    As for me, I’m going to show my dissatisfaction by hitting ’em in the pocketbook.

  14. Networks, while your advice to Dell seems sound and your attempt to offer them help is admirable, both you and Dell have overlooked one important factor, listening to customers now, does nothing to soothe the customer base that has been Dell’d in the past.  Like you, Networks, I had one (and all it took was one) extremely frustrating experience trying to get my Dell computer repaired.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I have never bought a Dell again, and I’ve prevented the sale of literally hundreds of Dell computers to clients simply by recounting my (now 4 year old) example of Dell’s customer service.  I’m not trying to get even with Dell, I’m just trying to save my clients the frustration (and expense) of dealing with a company whose service model is simply broken.  I suspect there are a lot of other people who are in the same boat as me and collectively, it seems, we may be having an impact on Dell’s bottom line whether intended or not.  Dell has attempted to right the wrongs they’ve committed with several high-profile bloggers whose visibility provides them with the power to influence many other people’s buying decisions, and that’s smart business, but Dell really has no other way of identifying random customers like me, who also, to a greater or lesser degree, have the ability to steer business away from Dell.  Dell’s challenge is further complicated by the fact that there are plenty of readily available, suitable alternatives, so why would I even need to take a chance by buying anything Dell again?

    That IMHO, is the biggest challenge that faces Ms. Bosworth and Dell.

  15. Kerry K,  I agree with your major points …and (as I have communicated to Dell in at least one of my posts) am refraining from purchasing or referring clients until I get some reassurance that they can resolve some of their issues.

    The major problem I have is that I have some Clients that I referred (based on a previous Dell environment) that are getting caught "between a problem (purchase?) and a totally non-responsive vendor (Dell)."  Do I "try" to be heard and hopefully effect some change or do I "swallow real hard" and "take my licks."  My world is sufficently small that I can’t afford dissatisfied customers.

    As I have expressed elsewhere, I think Dell should be spending some energy working on Dell’s Problems  …am I encouraged by what I see on his site:  No!!!

    Do I think this site is going to influence "people to buy DELL" ..Not the way its going.

    Do I think Dell has the ability to make this site "work"  ….yes(~~), (Lionel is working really hard, I also sense that he’s getting really frustrated)   …BUT, I think the window of opportunity is closing really fast  (it’s getting really nasty (hostile))

  16.  Dell should set performance standards, publish those standards,

    provide the customers with a means of reporting failures to meet those


    **And, then go the extra step:  when the customer reports

    the failure ,,,respond in two ways: (1.) Contact the customer and

    communicate that you care, and (2.) Contact the ‘unit’ that failed to

    meet the standard and (a.) administer the appropriate consequences and (b.) tweak the system so the standards are met or the standards are changed.

       I understand failure — I don’t understand continuing to make

    the same mistake over, and over, and over

      I explain to my clients that the warranty on the hardware is

    simply an admission that making the hardware perfect is simply too

    expensive — "if it fails,we fix it" and we do it within these

    "performance standards" (e.g. next-day-on-site, gold support, standard


       *** interestingly, I’m not seeing complaints about the hardware

    or warranty (battery recall excluded) — what I am seeing is

    complaints about the "performance standards" (e.g. unintelligible

    techs, messed up orders, failure to enter into a dialogue)  —- I

    think what I’m suggesting is a "Performance Standards Warranty"

        A example would be:

    "FAA announced that Lockheed Martin had won the contract to run the

    flight service system"

    "…pilots are going to get a contractual guarantee that a live

    briefer will answer their phone calls within 20 seconds and

    acknowledge their radio calls within five seconds. Flight plans will

    be filed within three minutes. It’s in the contract."

    "First and foremost, pilots — the "customers" — must be satisfied

    with the "quality, timeliness, accuracy, customer service, and

    relevance of overall and specific services received." The FAA is

    requiring the contractor to regularly survey pilots to make sure.

    A senior Lockheed manager told Boyer, "We want to hear from AOPA.

    Anytime your members have a problem, let us know. We want to fix it.

    You have my pledge."

  17. Fellow Bloggers: lots of great points that you are bringing up.  

    Networks: great ideas around performance standards.  It is definintely not something that we are doing in the consumer side of our business.  And, as many of you are attesting to, we need to get our performance a bit higher before we are meeting any “standards” we would want to measure ourselves to.  Rest assured that internally we have these types of targets… but I know that doesn’t help you much.  We need to deliver and beat them for you all to feel the difference.  But, I think this is a really cool idea and something we ought to consider in the future.  

    Having said that – it is relatively common for us to have these type of contractual agreements with our business customers.  They are usually referred to as Service Level Agreements (SLAs).  In most cases there are regular “account reviews” where the customer and the account team walk through the details of the performance on next-business-day or 4-hour parts replacement, for example.  So you are right on track with the need to have these.

    KerryK: you have definintely hit on something that is a big concern – a dissatisfied install base.  We are doing all that we can to “right the wrongs” for people contacting us now – because we know that each customer is far more influential on their freinds and family than any one of us “high profile bloggers” can possibly be.  We know that we are on a journey of improvement and we feel like we need to start talking about it…even though we have a long way to go.  Hopefully positive word of mouth can help bring back customers that we have, regretfully, lost.  

  18. Susan: Sorry about the frustrations about contacting XPS support.  Please re-issue a comment with your contact info (not to be published) and I’ll have someone contact you.

  19. ,,,,my timing was ontarget — immediately after I made the "performance standards post" — a Relevant Post appeared on the AOPA Website — I chose to not bring it here until I received a sense that you had seen the Original:

    " B+ for Lockheed Martin’s AFSS performance "

    —- its important to note that ‘everybody’ understands that it takes time — but stepping up to the plate and setting standards followed by:

    "Lockheed’s managers told AOPA that they are serious about responding to and resolving pilot complaints. Any complaint — whether by phone or to their Web site — will be investigated by the facility manager, and the pilot will get an answer, usually within a day or two."

    ,,,,goes a long way to smoothing "ruffled feathers" (pun intended )

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