Saturday, December 10, 2011

What is wrong with Dell's Customer Care & Service

If any Dell  representative reads this, and wants to get in touch with me, you can get to me at shrinivas.sg@gmail.com .. This has been a result of trying to give feedback to Dell, through every possible channel, but not being heard, at every instance.
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When you think Customer Care, and when you think India - probably the only thing that you can remember is the dull music and the announcement "Thank you for your valuable time. All our customer care executives are busy on other calls. Please stay on the line."

From the days of the 'Telecom Revolution' and the IT Revolution that made call centres come into vogue, customer service in India has improved by leaps and bounds. From the days when you had to pay the Telephones guy to fix the telephone to today when we have the BSNL guy outside out house in a few hours/days of the complaint, things have indeed come a long way. As a person, I have had my share of run-ins with the customer service guys of organisations ranging from BSNL, Airtel, Reliance, Next and recently Dell. 

Dell, is highly renowned for its prompt customer service, and its unique model of servicing their products at the customer's residence rather than at a service center unlike most other firms. But I believe it is exactly there that their business model is starting to fall apart, in my opinion at least. Here's 10 reasons why I believe so.


1. Repeated requests for information: Agreed that Dell needs to verify customer details. But it becomes highly irritating and nagging for a customer when he is put through a three minute ordeal of having to answer the same old questions "Name", "Service Tag", "E-mail", "Phone Number", "Alternate Phone Number", "Address" every time he calls Dell up. If all they want through this is to verify the authenticity of the customer, why not stop with just one question! This ends up resulting in extremely long call times. On an average, my three calls with Dell were about 25 minutes long each !

2. Lack of updation in records: Dell's customer records seem to suffer from an obvious issue of being outdated. Something I discovered to my shock, when they somehow shipped my replacement parts to my old address rather than my new address - to which they had shipped parts just a couple of days earlier. Everything ranging from contact number to address never seems to get updated in their system, which I discovered when they kept calling my alternate contact number rather than my primary contact number, which was the number in the service records. 

3. Wipro and other DSPs: The third party outsourcing of service makes it 'impossible', in the words of a Dell Customer Service Executive and Manager, to do anything about poor service from the side of Wipro (the company that mostly provides Dell's Customer Services at our residences). The people from Dell, agree that Wipro isn't doing a great job, but say things on Wipro's side are out of their control, and they cant do much about it. This is something I don't quite agree with, considering it is Dell's brand name and equity that they end up ruining, at the end of the day, and is something that Dell should definitely consider looking into. 

4. Lack of a nodal officer or appellate authority: There is a complete lack of an authority who can be contacted if the customer is unhappy with the response he gets from the customer service centers. This is an area where the telecom service providers score over Dell, as they have visible contact information of Nodal Officers and Appellate Authorities who can be contacted in case of dissatisfaction with the customer Service. With Dell, at the end of the day, it is a vicious circle and the highest you can get to is the Manager at the Call Centre, who is oblivious to everything and says he will do something about it. Try their website, and you get a form to fill up - to which you do not get any response. (It's been a week since I did so)

5. Following a scripted method to troubleshoot: All said and done, it becomes very difficult to handle the multitude of issues that prop up with Dell's systems everyday. But following a scripted method to troubleshoot when the customer already knows what the problem is, and what needs replacing, is not a very wise thing to be doing. All the more worse, is acting by your own whims and fancies, and sending across a LCD and a Flex Cable; rather than the Heat Sink and thermal pads that need replacement. Even more worse, is acting as if the customer knows nothing, and telling him that he is wrong, when he has spent Rs.20000 to extend the warranty to resolve precisely the same issue, one year back. 

6. Lack of listening to the customer: The customer service representatives of Dell suffer from this problem of not listening to the customer properly. Ranging from noting down wrong addresses to not even attempting to resolve the exact issue to more of a focus than maintaining that 'trained accent' rather than listening. The list is endless.


7. Apathy to customer preferences: Though Dell makes it a point to ask the customer for his preferred time of service, they do not quite convey it to Wipro DSP in the way it needs to be done, resulting in the customer being bugged from morning to evening. At times, this even goes to the extent of the customer being forced a service time, as it happened with me. 

First time:
Dell Ahmedabad: We can come for service only at 10 AM on Tuesday. We are busy for the entire week. You take leave and make sure you are there at that time. We cant do anything about this.
 Second time:
Dell Ahmedabad: (At 10 AM): We are sending our customer service executive at 1 PM to your place. Please make yourself available. 
Me:  But I had specifically asked for a service after  4PM
Dell Ahmedabad: We will get back to you
Dell Ahmedabad: (At 2-30 PM, right before a quiz of mine) Sir, I am XYZ from Dell. I will be at your place in 15 minutes. Please make yourself available. 
Me: #$%^$^$%

8. Ill-trained technicians: The service engineers who come to your place, know just to replace the part that has been sent - something that is made clear by the disclaimer at the end of every mail that Dell sends in this regard. With a 'text-book' process to identify issues and technicians who cannot identify issues, it ends up becoming a major problem, when you suffer from a complicated issue. This results in a replacement of every possible part that might be vaguely related to the problem in trying to solve it, rather than actually solving the problem. For example, for a minor issue with a small lock near the hinge, Dell ended up replacing nearly every other part in my system, due to a complete lack of diagnosis. And this, despite me sending them photographs of the area that was damaged.

9. Lack of continuity: When a customer service engineer has been handling your issue over the past week or so, it would be ideal that he continues to handle the issue. It becomes a major hassle for the customer to explain the entire issue once again to a new person, every time he calls up customer care. Dell doesn't seem to have a mechanism to transfer calls to the corresponding customer service executive either. This isn't helped by some pathetic responses by their executives, who do not even respond to e-mails sent to them. (Been about 6 days, and I am yet to get a response). For one issue of replacement of a motherboard and heat sink, I had to explain the problem to 4 people on 4 different instances!

10. Complete lack of willingness to take feedback: Dell, from what I can make out, seems to have an unspoken policy of sending the feedback form to customers only when the customer is satisfied, so that it pushes up their performance ratings. A badly handled service request is never followed up by a feedback form. (I asked twice for the feedback form, over the last week, but I am yet to receive it). I simply do not understand the point of a feedback form, if it is going to be taken only in cases when they've done a good job. And here I was, thinking that the point of a feedback form, was to help them improve, as they proudly state at the beginning of the survey. Things hinge on the boundary of pathetic-ness when the technician who comes to your place, fills up the "Satisfied" part of the form for you, on his own, before getting your signature on it. Lack of any other channel to give them feedback, makes it all the more worse, and forces you to put up with whatever they throw at you. 

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Disclaimer: At the end of the day, I have had a some good experiences with Dell too. But this pathetic experience, overshadows all of that it by FAR.


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