The Community as Customer Service

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The Community as Customer Service

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A recent post on the Consumerist pointed to an address to send feedback to Michael Dell, and after I left a comment there (providing a better method for giving us feedback and getting issues resolved) I began to think about how Dell’s efforts in social media have changed since we began.  I was pleasantly surprised by some of the comments there- but I’ll get back to that in a bit.

 If you’ve been reading Direct2Dell for a long time you might already be familiar with the blog outreach program that we started in April 2006. The idea was to take customer support into a realm that it hadn’t been before: proactively contacting people online, in the blogs and forums where they were talking, and work with them on their own blogs rather than wait for them to come to Dell. The early days were filled with learning what did and didn’t work, and soon after the Online Community Outreach (aka Dell Customer Advocates) team was born.

Since the time of John’s post, the team has grown and evolved in ways that I think surprised all of us that were involved in the early days.  One of the first transitions was combining the outreach team in with the team of Dell Community Forum moderators to pool their talents for community in general, given the team’s similar objectives.

Combining the teams was a precursor to what we’re trying to do with the new Dell community. Instead of separate groups that are tenuously tied together, we’ve combined the different pieces (blogs, forums, wikis, etc.) together with a goal of providing a seamless experience for our customers. By unifying the groups that work directly with people online, regardless of where the conversations happen, the hope is that we can more quickly and completely support our customers and bring them into conversations or present the information that is most relevant to them. Obviously we still have a ways to go on that front, but we remain focused on reaching that goal.

Getting back to the Consumerist post- what really grabbed my attention was the number of positive comments that appeared. In the beginning of the blog outreach team our efforts were focused on negative experiences and so the commentary we saw most often about Dell was also overwhelmingly negative. Seeing the positive commentary made me think that perhaps, as an entire company, we are beginning to move in the right direction again. Not all of the comments were positive, but we know that we still have more work ahead of us.

We’re still listening, and we’re still out there looking for ways we can help. These days, our monitoring tools are much more sophisticated.  And while I think our team has come a long way since those early days, there’s no substitute for employees who focus on helping customers and connecting them with useful information.

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  • Geoff... kudos to you and to the extended team for all the great work you continue to do every day. In my view, offering help to customers who are seeking it is one of the best reasons for us to be active in social media—on our own sites and beyond. Definitely agree that there's more we can do... I look forward to it.
  • Dells Has two main problems. ONe is how they treat there major customers. I work at a library and we always order atleast 12 pc's at a time. We tried to get a quote for 6 pcs and it took 2 months to get the quote back. Thats just plain wrong especially since we order through NY state contract. We made sure we told the people up in albany about our bad service through your company. \ NExt problem. GET RID OF INDIA TECH SUPPORT. I had somebody call me from there and started to speak to me in I guess it was hindi. HELLO I AM IN AMERICA AND DONT UNDERSTAND HINDI. Dell will slowly die if they continue to treat big customers (like states) this way . PS BECAUSE OF THIS WE ARE NOW GOING WITH HP.
  • If Dell are in fact so customer centric, and if they listen, then perhaps they will sort out the mess that was made when the Support forums were shifted over to the "new" forums. I don't have a problem if Dell want to persist with combining Direct 2 Dell with all the other whizzy little forums and blogs they've got, and make it into a sort of dollar-store social networking site, that's fine by me, I won't be there. But given Dell's poor quality home consumer support, the support forums filled a major gap. Because they are now so difficult to use people won't now be able to ask for, or provide the support. So far from bring your customers into conversations and quickly giving them support, Dell have done the opposite. And worse still, like every big corporation that makes a mistake, there is all the appearance of denial of the problem. Maybe I'm just a whiny loser who doesn't like the interface? Well, Geoff, what do you think? Looking at the poll that was opened in the support forums (possibly other areas - you just can't tell), 3.9% think that the new forums are great. Wow! How much did the new forums cost, to please a staggering less-than-four out of every hundred users? There were another 3.1% who blessed the new forums with "it's OK". Woo-hoo! High fives all round at Dell HQ I reckon, don't you Geoff? There'a a quarter of people initially undecided. And a staggering 71% of people didn't like it. How clear can users make it? Look at some of the tags that were harvested: Poor customer support Slow Confusing Poor navigation Boooooooo. So I suppose Lionel is on the money when he says "definitely agree there's more we can do", but I'm not sure that I look forward to it, because I'm not sure that Dell will listen to what people want, instead of getting carried away with more web 2.0 idiocy. Regards Led
  • Ledswinger- We are listening to the feedback from everyone regarding the changes to the Community site, including the forums. One of the links in my post went to an earlier blog discussing some of the fixes an enhancements we made after the launch- and those come primarily from user feedback. http://en.community.dell.com/blogs/direct2dell/archive/2008/11/14/community-update-fixes-and-enhancements.aspx We'll continue to work on improving and we hope that people will bear with us as we do so- the forums (and all of our community sites) have always been evolving, and each change has come with growing pains. This is a significant change from what was in place before, and I know that the growing pains can be difficult, but I think that the end result will be a better site for everyone. If you want to give me some specific feedback, you can always add me as a friend and send it to me in a direct message.
  • What was so wrong with the previous forums that they had to be changed? I agree with Ledswinger above--the forums filled a major gap in Dell's offerings of customer support. Dell's arrogance in dealing with this is to me unacceptable. The laptop I bought last summer from Dell will be my last Dell purchase after this fiasco.
  • Didn't Dell ever hear of beta-testing? By the way, the forums are once again not working with Firefox.
  • Geoff... After the latest upgrade of the Dell tech support forums, I find the site unsuited for the task of helping Dell customers find support for their computers. Navigation is the prime issue to date. New users, and even old timers on the site can not find a link to ask a question. If a customer does stumble upon the proper forum relevant to their problem, the link to ask the question is not apparent. A small text link saying "start a new thread" is placed in an upper right area of the very visually busy page. If you have any input into matters such as this, please consider turning the small text link into a button with the text of "Ask a new question". Also consider that a computer users eyes are naturally drawn to the upper left corner of a web page, and as such the 'Ask a new question' button would be better noticed there. Please read the comments in Dells poll on the new site. http://communityweb.ins.dell.com/forums/t/19240925.aspx To date over 71% or responders choose the lowest rating, and the vast majority of the replies fall in step with my request here. Customers are asking support questions in any area that they can find a post or reply link, including wikis, in the middle of a running thread, and also on blogs like this one as I am sure you are aware. Myself and the regular users of the tech support site are here for the purpose of helping Dell customers find the needed support for Dell products. If a customer can't find an answer on the forums, the only other choice is a live support person. Those choices cost Dell money. Money that Dell does not have to spare. Simple fixes to the tech support forum cost little, and will be a cost saver for years to come. Darrell
  • Darrell- thanks for the input. We've been reading through that thread and others so that we know where the biggest pain points are that need to be addressed. Believe me that we are working hard to make this a site that all of our users will enjoy. Your dilligence and patience is very much appreciated.
  • Hello again, ---- It has been some weeks now and Dell has produced no real fixes for this downgrade of the working and often used tech support site, except for a few fluff and cosmetic upgrades. I/we regular users and customers that support Dell owners at this site do not blame the Dell mods that are forced to support this failed downgrade. But, I do blame the person or think tank of persons that created this untested, and unusable downgrade of the useful and easy to use forum that Dell once offered. I take offense at Lionel's 'kudos' post here as it in no way reflects the real world here. I for one would like to know the names of the Dell employees involved in pushing this mess online without proper testing, and in fact killing Dell online support. The other Dell share holders should be aware just who is responsible for the demise of Dells online support ratings that will surely effect sales and profits in the near future.
  • I've been reading the blogs to see if anyone else has had the same problems as me. I bought a Dell XPS Studio 420 last August and have had problems from inception. First, the mouse does not track correctly. Click on one thing and something else pops up. This mostly in Windows Mail and Explorer. Second - random freezes and again, mostly Explorer. Thought about downloading Firefox but apparently there is trouble there too. Then today, ran into something browsing that I wanted to share, clicked on "page" to send the url via e-mail and prompt freeze, followed by the closing of the browser ---tried several times, same result. Rebooted pc, tried again, same result. This is my second Dell machine --the first, with Windows XP was so good it really spoiled me. This one is a different story --wish I could go back to my old one! BTW --had a conversation online with a Dell techie --no help.
  • I'm new at this...I need to know where to go for receiving poor customer service. 

     

     

  • I am trying to purchase a $3300 system,an upgrade from one I purchased 2 1/2 years ago.  My old account was closed (not my choice).  I had to open a new account with only a $2000 limit, which was not enough to purchase new system.  DFS WILL NOT INCREASE THE LIMIT ON THE NEW ACCOUNT.  I'm shopping other computer retailers who will take of their customers.

    It's sad because this would have been my 4th dell computer system.

  • @rubytwo Credit approvals and privacy issues such as those aren't really something we can help with very much via the forums or blogs.  I would recommend that you contact DFS directly at www.DellFinancialServices.com.

    Here is the direct link to their Contact Us page, and you can contact them via phone, mail, or email.  Due to privacy laws and restrictions there is a limit on how much we can do directly to help.

    Their reps can give you information on how to request additional review of your account and provide you with more information.  I hope this helps.

  • DESPERATION POST - I apologize if this is posted in the wrong area.

    90 days ago purchased an XPS 730 from Dell, desktop was refurbished.  Since taking desktop out of the box it has been one issue after another.  Took almost two months to get computer transferred into my name, have spent far in excess of forty hours on phone with tech' support.  In all this time, desktop has failed to ever complete any diagnostic tests without locking up.  In the first week I was told to back up hard drive aa spindle test failed and someone would call.  No one called.  Another partial test and I was told there was a serious power and/or cooling issue and I would receive a call within 24 hours.  No one called.  Tonight is the sixth time I have been promised a call back and it never arrived.  I have paid $49 for Premium support to no avail.  Computer randomly turns itself off, locks up, or fans begin to roar.  Today's episode began twelve hours ao.  I was told I had three or more definite issues and computer needed to be recalled and replaced and  I would receive a call back within two hours - "Omar" (tech's name) promised to call every fifteen minutes after this two hour period until he contaced me.  I did not recieve one call and I am where I was 90 days ago -- nowhere.  I am still using the desktop the XPS 730 was designed to replace.

    Dell does not appear to have any avenue, in place, for resolving such issues and after twenty-plus years with Dell find it almost unimaginable their support has evaporated to this.

    I never purchased a refurbished computer prior to this one - obvioulsy a mistake.  Now have a paperweight which cost in excess of four thousand dollars.

    How much time is one expected to devote with no results?

    Any insights would be ever so gratefully appreciated as I am getting nowhere fast.  E-mails. of the above, to Dell receive stock returns telling me to contact tecnhical support.

    Anyone who read this ... THANK YOU!

  • @ Ingalill   There is an Unresolved Issues group that you can contact for help.   If you go to http://support.Dell.com there is a link titled Unresolved Issues that you can use to contact a resolution group if you already have a recent case number for your issue.

    You can click on the link above to contact them directly or if you want you can PM me more details about your case and I can see if I can find someone to help you.