Prevention Is The Best Medicine

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Okay, I’ve received some flak (guess I’d better get used to that!) for taking so long to post again.  I promise to try to get better juggling my day job with this blogging hobby I signed up for.  You want us to be more specific about fixes and give more details of what we are doing.  Here are four key changes we have made in the last 3 months, in the US.    

Rebate Center: We have launched a web “Rebate Center” to streamline your ability to find this information.  This has been a very frustrating process for customers and in fact was the # 1 reason cited for dissatisfaction (based on customer surveys) with the order process in the US.  You will no longer have to search all over the website to find the right form and, in fact, the forms themselves have been improved.  Now, as soon as the products ship, the forms are auto-populated with the required information so all you have to do is print and mail them in along with a copy of your packing slips.  We have seen a drop in calls from customers who can’t find the forms so we believe this change is helping.  

Simplifying Pricing: You may have also seen the announcement last week about our intent to simplify pricing so that you don’t have to scramble around or worry about finding hidden deals.  We’ll blog more about this in the future.

Order Status Improvements: Even on this blog, there have been complaints (yes, really, complaints) about confusing communications from us about order status and shipping dates.  In fact, checking on order status is the # 1 reason you call us (based on actual number of contacts) during the order process.  We have already made some fixes and are working on more of them.  First, we have overhauled the look and information in our e-mails to be less “Dell-speak” and more inline with the info you are interested in.  For example (and this is kinda funny in an odd corporate world way) we used to provide you with a description of the product you bought and it looked something like this: DIM B110 CEL D 2.53.  What? That doesn’t mean anything to you, you say?   Well it meant a lot to our manufacturing systems.  Right.  Instead we have replaced this with descriptions that should help you verify that the order is in fact what you wanted: Dimension B110, Celeron Processor 2.53 GHz.  We have also fixed disconnects in our system as to when orders have shipped.  Previously, our online order status may not have had the same information as the service or sales rep and that may have been different from the e-mail.  But now they are connected, and if for some reason the ship date is revised, all the tools are updated together.  We still have more to do to continue simplifying and improving the accuracy of this information.  For example, we want to be more precise about your actual delivery date (when will it show up on your doorstep) and not just provide an estimated date for when it will leave our factory.  We look forward to introducing this capability in the fall.  For those of you who like to know why things take so long, we have this order information in multiple IT systems and tools.  The projects to integrate and synchronize the data are complex.  This means that the fixes are staggered over a few months.  My apologies to those of you who think these are excuses (you know who you are) but some people actually seemed interested in getting some insight into why things are the way they are. And while, I have been talking about specific fixes for the US, my colleagues in Europe and Asia have the same issues with similar projects in place to correct.

Getting Credit For Any Returns: The final fix is around getting credit for any returns that you make.  Show me the money… this has been a painful process for you.  Historically, Dell had a policy not to issue the refund money until the returned products made it into our warehouses and could be accounted for.  Unfortunately, this whole process typically took 4-6 weeks.  We are already starting to improve this timeframe.  By the end of the year, we aim to cut the return credit turnaround time to a week.   Meanwhile, we are working to eliminate some of the pain points by providing better visibility to you on the status of the credit and ensuring our reps have more detailed info they can provide.  

So, as I have said before, we have a laser focus on resolving your problems.  The improvements described above will make things easier for you and we believe they will actually prevent you from having problems.  They prevent problems in finding the best prices, they prevent problems with understanding what the heck is happening with your order and they prevent problems in getting a rebate or a credit after your Dell purchase has arrived.  Stay tuned, as we continue to add Dell bloggers who will share details with you of what we are doing to resolve your problems when you have them but perhaps more importantly in the long run…to prevent them from happening in the first place.

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29 thoughts on “Prevention Is The Best Medicine

  1. not sure I am crazy about you telling me that you are blogging as a hoby, this should be part of your job!

  2. I really would like to say that this blog has helped me realize when i buy a computer in the next few months its not going to be a Mac (which was my plan). I’ll continue to sport a dell 🙂

  3. Wow, that’s really interesting, in my experience Dell has had one of, if not, the best online ordering/status systems, and I purchase a lot of computer and office equipment online (I run a small business). Maybe it’s because I live in Canada, but I’ve found that at least 75% of the time, the "order tracking number" provided with shipments don’t work – except for Dell; the ones from Dell ALWAYS work. Every time.

    That said, I do have two frustrations with the ordering online with Dell, although it looks like both of these may be addressed with the changes listed above.

    1) When configuring a system, the pricing can vary over time. Try configuring a desktop or server system, come back a few hours or a day from now, and the price has changed, for no apparent reason. Sometimes it goes up, and sometimes it goes down. I don’t mind if it goes down of course 🙂 but honestly I would prefer if the pricing would not change like this, as it would often make decisions easier knowing I wouldn’t have to keep poking around and maybe saving an extra $200 or $300.

    2) A much bigger frustration I have lies in the options available for some of the business desktop and server systems. As with pricing, I find that some of the options can change over time, again, for no apparant reason. In fact, this very experience recently resulted in me turning to a different vendor for purchasing two new server systems.

    It’s possible that both of these issues are related, but, whatever the case, I find them to be frustrating.

  4. If you want the people in charge blogging here I guess we’ll have to accept it being secondary part of their job – and most likely voluntary. Whether that makes it a hoppy may be too far to go – but I also find it somewhat comforting that she (and most likely the rest) isn’t forced by Dell to write here. Rather that they write because they want to and feel they have something to say…

  5. Our mid-sized company swears by Dell hardware and we’ve never had a problem with the equipment or during the few times we’ve had to call for support.   Our tech support has always been a lot more friendly and knowledgable than IBM.

  6. Hello Joseph, yes we’ve seen that blog entry too.  Our support team has already reached out to the customer.  No updates since then.

  7. Like Microsoft, people love to rag on Dell cause they’re on top.  One thing I’ve learned about Dell support is that they will listen to you no matter how insistant they are about their fixes.  I’ve known with certainty that my motherboard was blown (all the caps on it were domed) and the tech wanted to run all kinds of tests.  I did at first but when time went by and we were getting nowhere I simply said that I didn’t think this was helping and could they just replace the motherboard.  The tech agreed immediately (and without argument) and the support guy was there with a new mobo within 4 hours.  (Granted, I have Gold support).  On another occasion I had a video card fail and someone at Dell got in their car and drove a new one to me (60 miles away).  I deal with alot of support centers as part of my job and Dell is consistant in being exceptional.

  8. It may be true that Dell in the past did not have the best customer service nor products….. but with that being said in the past 3-4 years the company has trully turned itself around… I am sitting here typing on a D820 with a D620 next to me as well as 2 XPS 400’s under my desk… ive had nothing but SUPER service and support. The online chat works well and phone calls are harldy ever needed. There might be an unhappy customer here and there but over all… great job guys… keep it up!

  9. Are we to believe that including the removal of off topic and offensive postings there have only been 9 legitimate comments on this posting?

    That’s amazingly low considering this Blog should be getting plenty of hits.

    I’d hate to think that Dell wasn’t being transparent and was only moderating a small select number of comments through!  

    Looking forward to seeing if this comment appears online 🙂

  10. This is in response to Sarah’s novel.  Look, I have no love lost for Dell and have had my fair share of support headaches but I do appreciate them doing this.  I have to wonder if you work for a rival company, are an out-of-work tech, or work for one of the tech support companies you listed.  I mean seriously, you’re complaining about somone replacing your computer for you to try to make you happy?  And you’re an independent contractor that is qualified enough to offer tech support, yet you can’t troubleshoot a "no-brainer" DVD-RW issue?  Your post reeks…go somewhere else to vent about outsourcing, and stop pretending to be a concerned customer.  

  11. Glad to hear of the fix to the ship/order status.  That was the only problem I have had with tech support and service.  The rest has been outstanding.

  12. Laura

    Blogging is not a hobby unlesss you consider communicating with customers a hobby, some serious (and fun) required.  

    You may find enlightenment if you transplant the word/verb "blogging" with "conversing" –it’s easier to understand the activity. As such, I doubt anyone would suggest that conversing with customers is a hobby.

    Great post, and solid updated, Keep at it Laura, your customers want to talk to you, and want to hear from you!  

  13. So I bought my Dell in June in an aggravating process regarding price and features, including getting different price quotes for the same system, which shipped (finally) on June 14.  I forgot about the rebate, remembering when received the credit card statement on July 15th and saw the news articles the same day about widespread aggravation with Dell, including rebates, which mirrored my experience.  I go to the online rebate site, which tells me the rebate expired.  By ONE DAY.  I call up Dell on July 15, explain the issue, and am told to submit the rebate, wait 6-8 weeks, get rejected, then call Dell again, who will manually fix the issue and the check will be issued weeks later.  No can do the straight manual fix, even thought I’ve been rejected electronically.  No can do nothing on Dell’s side but cause me even further aggravation.  This is the fix?  I call my particular Dell rep to see if she can fix it (the previous person was from Dell rebate customer service), but still no can do.  Nice to see the website here but the ground troops need more authority.  Why even have submission of paper?  What gets done with it?  You’ll take my orders electronically but not the rebate correction?  At a certain point the warm and fuzzy of Dell evaporates.  I’m there.

  14. Thanks, Laura, for your thoughts on these topics; I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who has a difficult time juggling work and blogging.

    Will read some of your post and contribute some thoughts.

  15. Hi Laura,

    We are a UK based IT support organisation that focus on servicing the SME sector.

    We really like the Dell direct model, Dell sell the boxes and provide hardware support while we provide expert line of business and infrastructure software support services.

    We create somewhere between 250 and 500 baskets a year for clients to order directly from Dell.  Our normally process is to create a basket, email it to the Dell business sales team, review that final specification of the quote and then forward it to the customer who places the order directly with Dell.

    We have spent some years refining this process and it revolved around a critical part of the process for us which is that we must ensure the client is ordering the correct equipment.

    Once the hardware arrives with the client we provide our value added engineering services to integrate it within the client’s environment.

    Recently the Dell website in the UK has changed such that we can’t save baskets without an email address.  Initially we viewed this as a bit of extra pain to the process, but even so we have tried changing our process to accommodate this new requirement.

    However we have subsequently discovered that we need to register an address for every active basket because the sales team are unable to turn round the baskets quicker that we create them.

    Frankly in my view Dell have a long way to go to support our business model i.e. one that entirely supports Dells direct sales model in the SME market and in the last few weeks have taken a step backwards.

    The bottom line is that it is getting to be so much effort for us to pass you free leads to Dell that we may well be better off reverting to reselling HP kit.  

    This would mean that we would be:

    – displacing Dell at all our existing clients

    – no longer displacing HP with Dell at new clients.  

    Not to mention needing to get larger premises, increasing our stock insurance and adversely affecting our cash flow  – all costs that will get passed on to the customer.

    In short

    – we loose,

    – Dell loose,

    – and our customers loose.

    I hope there is something you can do to make it easy for us to give you new business, and I’m sure there are 100’s of other similar service business in the UK alone that would benefit from this too.

  16. One major question I’ve had about the revamped pricing system is the status of coupon codes.  The $750 off $1999 Inspiron codes are a godsend, especially to students like me.  Do your plans involve eliminating coupon codes (or at least the effect of the pricing)?

  17. So I bought my Dell in June in an aggravating process

    regarding price and features, which shipped on June

    14.  I forgot about the rebate, remembering when

    received the credit card statement on July 15th and

    saw the news articles the same day about widespread

    aggravation with Dell, including rebates, which

    mirrored my experience.  I go to the online rebate

    site, which tells me the rebate expired.  By ONE DAY.

    I call up Dell on July 15, explain the issue, and am

    told to submit the rebate, wait 6-8 weeks, get

    rejected, then call Dell again, who will manually fix

    the issue and the check will be issued weeks later.

    No can do the straight manual fix, even thought I’ve

    been rejected electronically.  No can do nothing on

    Dell’s side but cause me even further aggravation.

    This is the fix?  I call my particular Dell rep to see

    if she can fix it (the previous person was from Dell

    rebate customer service), but still no can do.  Nice

    to see the website here but the ground troops need

    more authority.  Why even have submission of paper?

    What gets done with it?  You’ll take my orders

    electronically but not the rebate correction?  At a

    certain point the warm and fuzzy of Dell evaporates.

    I’m there.

  18. And don’t even get me started on the apparent price differences between home and small business computers, which are apparently the same but under different names (Inspiron v. Lattitude) and different prices.  Commodities are commodities, except when you try to brand them differently.

  19. SL, My apologies for the frustration. I don’t believe your rebate process was handled properly by the agents. We’ve made changes to this process that should have prevented this. Can you please submit your e-mail or phone number (not to be posted, all info will be kept confidential) via a comment so that we can investigate what happened? We need to learn what went wrong and why you fell through the cracks.

  20. Luke Roberts,

    I am in contact with the web team in the UK and they are looking into why the changes might be impacting your process.  Could you submit your contact info (we will not post) so that we can have them call you once they have a better understanding of what might be at issue?  Also, if you have a Dell account manager it would be helpful to know who they are.  Thanks.

  21. Adg1034, SL, NathanLaan and others,

    In regards to your questions about pricing in the consumer (home and personal user) space: Our plan is to reduce the numbers of promotions (aka “sales”), mail-in coupons and rebates needed to get to low pricing so that they are always available.  We want our systems to be the right value for our customers always… not just if you have a coupon.  Making this change doesn’t happen overnight, but the end game is to ensure that you can always, easily find the best price available on our Web site or when you call.  

    There have been comments about the frustration of needing to look at all our business segments to get the best price.  We are working to drive more consistent pricing for the same product across our business segments.  For example, similar Dimension desktops should cost the same whether you are buying from the consumer home page or the small business phone queue.  All the changes above will help us get better at this.  

    Lastly, some of you thought we may only be “marketing” differences in our product lines so that we can charge different prices.  While it may seem that the Inspiron and Latitude (both are notebooks) are the same products they are, in fact, different.  Here are just a few examples:  

    Inspirons are best for consumers that desire advanced multimedia functionality and simple, secure wireless connectivity via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.  Latitudes are designed with the business customer in mind – most Latitudes target “road warriors” with stronger full-magnesium alloy construction and features that protect the hard drive from accidental falls.  They include more options for connectivity than Inspiron; like built-in mobile broadband and more stringent security options (for example pre-boot passwords, built-in smart card readers and optional fingerprint reader).  I thought this was a really great question that deserves more in-depth explanation.  So look for more details in future blogs about this as we recruit the right product expert(s).

    Thanks.

  22. So, if Dell "listens" to what some of the bloggers are saying and brings the call centers back to "America" I guess they will need to choose carefully what states they put their call centers in. If it is New Jersey, it might as well be India, because I have no freakin idea what they are saying half the time. It also cannot be in Texas, because they speak with a drawl and they are too close to the border of Mexico. Dell should also eliminate New York because that is a melting pot of all races, religions, accents, etc…talk about a hornets nest. Forget Louisiana. Cross off Arkansas. Nix New Mexico(too many New Mexicans). How about Wisconsin? Oh wait, never mind. Same goes for North Dakota. I got it! California. The land of no accents (Just avoid Chinatown). DO YOU BLOGGERS GET MY POINT? How about a little patience with people of different languages? I would hate to be working in a call center in India talking to a bunch of self righteous "Americans" who would rather be speaking to other "Americans" in America. Just ridiculous! Get over it people India is here to stay.

  23. Hi Andrew, if you would issue another comment with your e-mail address (not to be published), I’ll have a member of the team follow up with you to make sure that your order and charges are right.

  24. RE: “Sarah said:” Posted July 22, 2006

    You took the words right out of my mouth! Thanks!  I bought the extended $200 warranty and also had my brand new Dell E310 crash for 4 days because of rude, inept, ignorant “techs” that caused a mountain of stressful and financial problems that should never have happened.

    I have not been able to address this mess until now..you can see my message submitted on Oct 19th.

    Thanks for your comments Sarah..I hope they, and other blog contributers opened more consumer’s eyes..and especially the CEO’s of Dell Corporation…at one time the very Best company in the technical world!  I’m embarrassed that I suggested buying a Dell Product to friends and family. KG

  25. I had trouble with my dell on day one. I talked with a dell tech for over 2 hours. He was polite,friendly, and professional. He fixed the problem for me. 2 hours seemed like an awful long time but I was glad to have the help when I needed it. I bought a Dell because I heard nothing but good things about the product.  You guys have me a little worried. So far I am a satisfied customer and I think this site is helpful, informative, interesting, and many times I read things that simply crack me up.,

    Wendy

  26. I would like to add a few comments.I purchased five machines from Dell and all were very good deals.As far as tech support if you can’t understand the tech’s slang you can always reach them via email or live chat.Dell has been outstanding in every way

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