Excellent Service

I recently had a problem with my computer. A client I was working with said it was a D620 error. I didn’t get it at first but then realized my computer is a Dell Latitude D620. Apparently, this model has had a problem or two…my client’s company actually exchanged a bunch of them when they first came out due to problems.

My company doesn’t have that kind of leverage with Dell though and the computer was three years old when I started having the problem. In fact, I had a three-year warranty and the problem started about a month before the warranty expired. (Of course, I was too busy to deal with it until after the warranty expired but that’s my own fault…)

I was prepared for the worst…which, in this case, would be hours of troubleshooting, some new parts, some frustration trying to get the fix to work, followed eventually by the purchase of a new laptop. But, for once, that is NOT what happened.

Instead, I got a first-hand look at how Dell does service and it was impressive. Dell’s reputation can be spotty, depending on who you talk to. But they are clearly putting a focus on customer satisfaction and service.

First, I tried to chat with a service support person and right after I typed the problem symptoms and the steps I had taken to correct the problem into the chat window, the chat was ended. “I knew it…they couldn’t solve it so the ‘hung up’ on me!” I wasn’t happy but was smart enough to copy my information so I wouldn’t have to re-type it.

Figuring I would try again, I re-logged in but during the process, my phone rang. Picking up I found it was the service support rep I had been chatting with! How about that!

She did some troubleshooting on line and then had me run some diagnostics and called back to check the results. Bad news…I needed some new parts. The motherboard for one thing. (Which sounded like a big deal.)

After looking at some alternatives, she offered sell me an extended warranty which would cover on-site service/installation of the new parts and a year of accident protection for less than half the price of the motherboard (which was not the only part). My suspicions were raised “what’s the catch?” but I went for it.

Long story short…the support rep called to confirm the parts were shipped. A dispatcher called to let me know a tech would be calling me the next morning for an appointment. The next morning the service tech called to schedule a time. In the afternoon, he came to my office and installed about four separate parts (completely dis-assembling the laptop and re-assembling it in about 30 minutes). And, so far, everything works!

What was so great about that service? First of all, the results. If it didn’t work, nothing else would matter. If you are going to provide any service you have to be competent.

Secondly, the response time. I first gave up my superstitious troubleshooting methods (“maybe if I jiggle this cable while touching the monitor…”) and went online for help on a Wednesday morning. The parts were shipped that night. The tech had them the next morning and was in my office on Thursday afternoon.

Third, the value. This all cost a little more than $200! (Plus, if I drop my computer before next March, I can get it fixed again…) This is a three-year old laptop running Windows XP! But, since we have been in business (2002) we have purchased all our IT equipment from Dell (OK, not cellphones or printers). Based on this experience, we will continue to. The value to Dell is customer loyalty.

Fourth, the communication. This one is almost cliche. Communicate your commitments and then meet them. Explain the process to the customer so they know what is going to happen next. Confirm that the customer is satisfied before moving on to the next task. Fundamental customer service is not hard to learn…but it is still not easy to implement.

This level of service is actually a little bit inspiring. I found myself looking at my own business and asking “how would our service be perceived?” Are we adequate? Are we excellent? Where should we make improvements? I made some notes.

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