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Dell Saga: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

July 15, 2010

So I got a call last night from our Intrepid Hero. He said I have good news and bad news. The good news is you have a new blog post. The bad news, let me explain…

[If you need to catch up first, check out Part One here and Part Two here.]

He got the following email from @dellcares on Tuesday, July 12th:

Thank you for your patience while we work to find you a solution. I have been in contact with the contracting firm who covers Mobile, AL and discovered that they don’t actually have a shop, rather, their contractors work out of their vehicles and use a local Fed Ex store for shipping/receiving parts. However, they would be willing to coordinate a public location to meet and service your system.

The onsite tech is being alerted by his Area Manager regarding your special circumstances. Once he receives the parts, he will be contacting you (either tomorrow or Wednesday) to coordinate an appointment and location to service your computer.

The parts normally ship within 1-2 business days with next day delivery. I will keep an eye on the parts order and let you know if there are any status changes. I have setup a dispatch with the following parts:

  • Motherboard kit
  • Keyboard
  • Palm rest
  • Mouse pointer cover
  • Factory Installed Hard Drive (this is just in case the above items don’t fix the issue)

The contractors work out of their cars? Ok. Fine. He was contacted by a support tech and arranged a rendezvous. Where? The parking lot of the Olive Garden.

He met the tech in the parking lot as agreed.

“Do you want to take it with you?”

“Nope. I can do it right here.”

The tech proceeds to expertly replace the motherboard, mousepad, handrest and keyboard. Clearly he’s done this before.

Boot up the computer.

You guessed it. DOA. Bad motherboard. So we’ve gone from bad to worse. Now he has brand new Dell brick.

The tech gets on the phone to Dell. Can’t reach anyone. Pulls a trick out of his hat and gets through to Dell through the back door. Gets them to ship him a new motherboard. They can’t ship it: no address. Here we go again. The tech gets them to ship to his location.

If I had made this up, no one would believe me.

For you social media/customer service types out there, I should note that @dellcares has been involved in this process the entire time. No one bothered to reach out to him this morning to see how things were going. Who owns this problem in Dell?

Which leads me to one of two conclusions: 1) this would have been a whole lot worse without @dellcares; or 2) social media is failing to add a tangible benefit.

The point I want to highlight here is not the failure of Dell to get this laptop fixed. Our Intrepid Hero’s story is not unique in that sense and not every customer service issue runs smoothly.

However, for those who are working to improve the Customer Service experience, consider this:

  1. There were compound failures in the initial diagnosis and processing of this service request;
  2. Social Media picked up on the issue and, initially, only caused more confusion;
  3. No one seems to be taking ownership of the issue and following up to insure its satisfactory completion.

But most important: We have a lost opportunity from a marketing/PR point of view. If you were Dell Corporate, wouldn’t you want to know that there was a government responder working in Alabama who needed his Dell laptop to do his job? How do we bridge the gap and make Customer Service more “marketing aware?”

So this odyssey started with a call to Dell tech support on July 4th. As of July 15th he has a dead Dell laptop. Our Intrepid Hero is off to comb the beaches for oil in 100 degree heat.

UPDATE: July 16th – Dell Executive Customer Support Team stepped up and shipped replacement laptop. Should be waiting for him at his hotel.

Part 4 –  Back In Business

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