December 9, 2004 4:00 AM PST
Dell is swell, customers say
- Related Stories
Spyware spurs Dell to offer protective softwareOctober 20, 2004
Dell builds business service center in ChinaSeptember 8, 2004
Survey: Dell customer satisfaction unsatisfactoryJune 28, 2004
Growing pains hit Dell's customer serviceFebruary 20, 2004
Open letter to Michael DellDecember 23, 2003
Dell opens service center for businessesNovember 18, 2003
Dell scored 83.61 out of a possible 100 points in Technology Business Research's third-quarter report, up from 82.27 in the second quarter and 80.32 in the first quarter.
The third-quarter result gave Dell the highest satisfaction rating among the world's top three PC manufacturers. HP scored 81.95 for the period, while IBM came in third with 81.66.
Reversing a yearlong slide, PC maker Dell topped competitors HP and IBM in an influential customer service ranking.
TBR's report, which offers a rare glimpse into the thinking of hundreds of corporate-technology buyers, is good news for Dell. But rankings could shift in the wake of the Lenovo-IBM deal.
Dell's showing reverses a yearlong slide in ratings from business customers, as measured by TBR. During the first quarter of this year, Dell's overall customer satisfaction rating fell behind that of HP for the first time since 2000, when TBR began the survey. Dell improved slightly during the second quarter, but only enough to tie with HP and IBM.
Customer complaints lobbed at Dell mainly centered around phone and on-site support, gripes readily acknowledged by the company. "We have a pretty fast-growing business, and unfortunately, we had staffing plans that didn't meet that" in areas such as phone support, said Bob Riazzi, director of services marketing for Dell. "We needed to grab hold of that, and we did."
TBR's influential reports offer a rare glimpse into the thinking of hundreds of corporate-technology buyers who participate in its quarterly surveys. A difference of 1 percent or more between two scores represents a significant advantage, according to the Hampton, N.H.-based researcher.
The rankings could face another shake-up following Lenovo Group's purchase of IBM's PC division, expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2005. Although IBM has taken measures to ensure that the transition is as painless as possible, and several customers have said they expect no reason to change brands, the deal could still help Dell or HP gain if Lenovo and IBM drop the ball during the hand-over.
TBR compiles the report by surveying several hundred IT executives at North American companies each quarter. It focuses on eight factors, including phone support, on-site technical expertise, pricing and value and overall satisfaction. The third-quarter report included 640 interviews and was completed between April 1 and Sept. 30.
TBR's third-quarter report shows that Dell--whose fast-growing PC business was putting a strain on its customer support capabilities--has taken action to improve customer satisfaction among businesses, decreasing the likelihood of an exodus of customers due to service and support concerns.
Although TBR's third-quarter customer service and support satisfaction report reflects the opinions of a small sample of Dell's overall corporate customer base--and it only queries businesses with less than 1,000 employees--it provides insight into how customers at large businesses feel about the company's service and how those feelings have changed over time.
Dell executives have long said they consider large businesses to be the company's most important customer base.
This time around, customers felt better, experiencing at least some effect from measures Dell took in late 2003 and early 2004 to beef up its telephone and on-site support groups through staffing, training and the launch of its Enterprise Command Center. The center serves to track service personnel and follow replacement parts on the way to customers, as well as monitor weather and news reports so Dell can predict where its services might be needed most.
"Phone support was the area that was keeping Dell from doing better," said Julie Perron, manager of primary research at TBR. "Phone support was having kind of a domino effect on some of the other areas."
Indeed, TBR's report shows that Dell scored higher customer-satisfaction ratings for its telephone technical support and on-site service. Those improvements also boosted customers' views of the overall value of Dell's service and support, she said. Customer satisfaction for HP and IBM, meanwhile, has been much more stable over the last year.Setting expectations
TBR's report also sheds light on customer expectations. Many report expecting more from Dell than they do from the other PC makers, Perron said. Thus, existing customers believe their service should remain the same or improve, while many new customers probably expect to get better service based on Dell's reputation. Either set of Dell customers is therefore more likely to be disappointed by Dell's service, Perron noted.
Aaron Lockey, a software developer and former network manager who works for a large company that purchases Dell PCs, said he recently had to call Dell tech support three times in order to get the motherboard on his work-issue Latitude D600 replaced. Lockey says he was made to troubleshoot the problem with tech support and then asked twice to leave his contact information to schedule an on-site service. Dell reps told him their server was down before Lockey made a third call; Dell then dispatched a technician to fix the machine.
"I was really disappointed because in the past I'd had so much better service," he said. "So I guess my expectations were a little bit higher...because I really expect more than that from Dell."
If Lockey were buying himself a computer in the future, "I think I'd
Page 1 | 2
14 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment