I saw that the Consumerist recently published a post that features an e-mail from someone who claims to be a Dell tech support specialist. I couldn't confirm if he was based on the information that's there, but the point of the post is questioning whether Dell technicians are selling things to customers.
I talked to a few folks to find out what's happening, and here's the deal. Starting a few months ago, we did a small pilot on a concept we call Total Solutions with a group of tecnhnicians in the United States. We enabled them to offfer advice on hardware parts, extended warranties, or software. Think of it like a concierge service where we offer customers options where it makes sense. It didn't take long to see the positive results—not in terms of revenue, but in improved levels of customer service. What we saw was increased numbers of resolved issues and fewer transfers to other departments. Because of this positive change, we have expanded the program to several thousand technical support agents in the United States, and we're planning to expand the model into other regions.
The move really is about empowering agents to provide better service. Like always, fixing the issue a customer calls in for is the first priority. Beyond that, if there's something related that might either prevent problems in the future (like anti-virus software for systems that don't have it installed) or will simplify a process in the future, then we encourage agents to make a recommendation for customers.
Consider this as an example: when I go visit my father-in-law, he usually asks for some kind of technical support. One issue was organizing family photos. I recommended that he download Google's Picasa, and it helped. But I still end up sending him CDs with family pics. Since then, I've recommend that he buy a card reader so I can just import the photos directly from my camera's SD card… now there's no waiting next time we visit.
That's the spirit behind this. We're encouraging tech agents to sell things if it makes sense. It really equates to maybe a couple of sales per rep each week. And from what we've seen, those instances are ones that have the highest satisfaction ratings.