Learning How to do Tech Support! #DellCAP

click image to read notes; art by sunnibrown.com

It’s really a matter of time before hardware breaks.  It’s just the nature of the products.  Hardware is going to break.  It may take even beyond the years that you own the hardware, but it will not last forever.  Hopefully, when it does break, you have the resources and warranty to be able to fix it.  This area is where many have felt that Dell has dropped the ball lately.

First lets address the elephant sitting in the room, which is their overseas support.  Dell owned up to the business decision they made a while back to start using overseas support.  Obviously when they are able to save money on staffing call centers, they are able to pass those savings onto the customers.  They stated that customers have been voting with their purchases that low cost was definitely a factor in their decision to purchase a computer.  At the end of the day, the executives at Dell have thought that if a customer was presented with two choices, one computer with a lower cost and overseas support, and the other computer with a higher cost and US based support, that the customer would choose the cheaper computer.  Most everyone on the panel agreed that they would be willing to pay more for a computer if it came with US based support.  Do you agree?  I really want you to think about that question.  Yes, you probably agree on paper, but would you REALLY buy the higher cost computer?  I know my sister would actually prefer the cheaper computer, I would not.

I actually don’t mind overseas support though, when the people are educated, polite, and don’t make me jump through hoops to get what I need.  When I call support it is usually because I have already run through all of the troubleshooting steps, and I know EXACTLY what is wrong with my computer.  When I call I don’t want to be talked down to and told to update the driver or reboot the computer, ’cause I’ve already done that.  I understand though why they need to do these steps, as I run through similar steps with the customers I support on help desk every day.  One thing we mentioned was more options at the beginning of the call to select what kind of user you are, or something attached to your service tag that has a profile on you.  For example if I called it would say that I’m a Microsoft Certified IT Manager, so they don’t need to “talk down” to me.  My mother’s profile though would be different, stating that they shouldn’t speak on a highly technical level.  As I’ve said previously, when I use the chat feature the language barrier typically disappears, since it is likely easier for them to read English than to speak it.  I know that’s the case with me and French (I can read it, but heaven help me if I have to have a conversation)

For now though, I think in order to improve it’s image, Dell needs to eliminate overseas TELEPHONE support, and bring it to the US.  I still wouldn’t mind if overseas support handled the support via the chat on the website.  I think (and so did the majority of my panel) that by just making this move it will show the customers in the US that they are listening to their complaints about overseas support, and they are willing to change it.  The problems we identified with overseas support are: 1) the language barrier. 2) their lack of concern, and the feeling like they are just trying to get you off the phone. 3) repetitive nature of the call (“I understand that you are having a problem with your hard drive”, “Yes, that’s what I JUST said”.  I think now it’s too late.  People have had bad experiences with overseas support.  Now it almost doesn’t matter how good the support is from overseas, people aren’t wanting to deal with it anymore.

The last problem people have with customer support is the “run-around”.  All of the transfers to this department or that.  Most problems have a little bit to do with warranties, and a little bit to do with the actual problem.  So there is a very distinct disconnect between the two groups.  One person is not empowered to do everything.  This is one thing that Dell has ALREADY CHANGED.  They are empowering their teams to be both customer service and technical support.  This should help to eliminate the constant transfers from one department to another, where you once again have to run through your entire problem to the 4th person in a row.

I’d love to know your thoughts on Dell’s support, or any other support company that you think is doing it right.  Also, the question of the day… Would you REALLY pay more for a product with guaranteed US based support?

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About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com


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  • I just chatted with customer support last night. My laptop is not even 2 years old and at the 1 year mark they had to replace the hard drive twice, within six weeks of each other, and the mother board. This was the first time that I feel I got fully heard. Mind you I told the guy I don’t think I will ever buy Dell again after this computer nightmare I have had. I had no idea that they had an exchange program for computers. The problem is that it takes 2 to 4 weeks. I would understand that for a custom built computer but I will probably just be getting whatever is refurbished and meets what I purchased before.

    I do have to say that I really appreciate having chat because I can’t understand the tech support when I have two kids playing in the background. Plus, they are actually using names that are not so fake.

    • Thank you for your comment Katie, what do you feel that Dell could have done better to make your experience less of a pain?

  • I would have liked to have known that you could exchange your laptop. The other thing is to make a product that has not had so many replacements or educate me on how not to ruin my laptop. I don’t know what I am doing or if it is just the computer that is eating the hard drives.

  • I had the same problem with my internet provider’s tech support. Not with Dell though. But pretty much the same. I have experience at both ends. Being the tech support and being the customer. Having the option for high/low cost computer and user type would definitely help in the process. I also sometimes feel that tech support are trying to just get me off the phone and finish the call. You know what happened after calling a few times and being on hold for 2-3 minutes each, they realized that what I was requesting for was not available in our area after one month. How $….. is that?!!

    Now, when I was doing tech support for Microsoft, we used to know the customers. We don’t transfer calls, even if the customer asks for it. It’s forbidden. The calls came in from the email and then we call them back – to make the exchange of information easier. The thing about the “I understand that you are having a problem… blah…” is that it is a way for us to confirm what we heard. Tech support doesn’t have a choice to deviate from this. The calls are sometimes randomly picked for recording and is used for quality monitoring. If they missed a line from their script (the script includes troubleshooting, too!), a point will be deducted. We were not allowed to use chat because they can’t track that but I’d prefer using that. It’s more informal and relaxed. Anyways, I quit because the job became too “call center-y”.

    I think the question should be: Would you REALLY pay more for a product with efficient support?

    I believe it is the solution that really matters the most. Support does not matter if it is inefficient. They might be able to give you a fix for your problem but if it’s a bug, that’s a work for development to handle. If parts need to be replaced, then that should be done quickly, too. I’d like mine replaced at my doorstep, please.

    • Yes Carol, that is a big problem with current support feeling like they are just trying to get you off of the phone. Companies need to NOT emphasize call volume as a factor in job scores. If they get incentives for the amount of calls that come through, it won’t matter if it’s overseas or US based, the techs will continue to push through the calls.

      Now I also know all about “active listening” (the art of repeating back), but there is a point where it gets a little ridiculous. I can understand repeating back the problem to verify understanding of it. Sometimes, though they repeat back things that don’t have anything to do with the problem.

      So I don’t believe I have the answer to the question from you… Would YOU really pay more for a product with efficient support?

  • Sarah – I thought I would update on the laptop situation. I still do not have a working laptop, nor the new laptop. Last week, week 3 in this process, they canceled the order and have ordered a different computer. Anytime I talk to someone, they tell me 7 to 10 days more. I am wondering if I am ever going to get a new computer. Plus, during this process, I have dealt with many staff members who I can’t understand, sound very distant, and have even hung up on me because their systems are not working. Just like Carol said, they are trying to get you off the phone as fast as they can and not willing to give answers. I think I am done with Dell which is sad because every computer I have purchased since college has been a Dell.