March 31, 2004 10:57 AM PST

For Dell, Indian call center failure a lesson

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Dell admits it has "learned its lesson" after being forced to drop its Indian call center last year following customer complaints about the quality of service.

The call center operation for the OptiPlex desktops and Latitude laptops was moved back to the United States. Dell CIO Randy Mott said in an interview that the Bangalore center was unable to deal satisfactorily with the volume of calls generated by the rapid growth of those product lines.

"In that example we were not as efficient as we wanted to be," he said. "We were growing very quickly in that (consumer) segment. It got a little ahead of us. We took the decision to get it back under control. Our customers expect more from Dell than other companies, and we weren't meeting those (expectations)."

Surveys released in February showed that, while Dell's market share has continued to grow, customer satisfaction has declined. The company has acknowledged the problem and said steps are being taken to improve tech support and other customer services. Mott did not rule out future expansion in India and said Dell has a policy of "all shoring"--spreading jobs throughout Dell's global reach--wherever the right skills are to meet the needs of its global business.

"We certainly learned a lot of things, and we'll be smarter about our growth in newly developed areas," he said.

Mott has been CIO at Dell for four years now after his move from U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart Stores, and said being CIO for a technology company has its good and bad points.

"One of the positive things about it is you have a management team that understands the importance of technology," he said.

In Mott's time at Dell, the IT budget has dropped from 1.91 percent of revenue to 1.44 percent, though of larger revenue, and the company is spending less in real dollar terms. Mott said he plans to bring that down even further to around 1 percent of revenue, but that is likely to mean an actual dollar increase, given Dell's ambitions to be a $60 billion revenue company by 2005.

And Dell is getting more out of its own IT for that money. Mott said his department completed 480 projects last year and has 650 on the table this year, with 60 percent of the 3,000 IT staff now working in development.

Internally the priorities include the Dell enterprise data warehouse, its global online shop and the migration from Sun Solaris running proprietary Unix to Red Hat Linux, which is set to be completed this year. Externally with its own product set, a lot of resource is also going into development around applications for Dell's "one-stop shop" services business.

One area Dell won't be looking at for its own needs is outsourcing. Mott admitted that outsourcing can lead to an "average" IT cost for some firms but said IT is a core part of Dell's business.

"The last thing we want is an average cost structure," he said. "We consider IT a core competency. It is something we look to for sustainable competitive advantage."

Andy McCue of Silicon.com reported from London.

17 comments

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What Dell meant to say
Dell forgot to add one small detail. The huge volume of support was fueled by Windows XP. I would like to know what Microsoft had to promise Dell to get them to renew their contract. I know that XP support nearly overwhelmed Dell's support staff. If Dell bought the SP2 song and dance like everyone else,... well let's just hope they didn't lay off any of those extra support personnel they had to hire.
Posted by bjbrock (98 comments )
Reply Link Flag
XP not to blame
I'm a certified professional tech making a living doing this stuff and XP service pack II has been one of the smoothest upgrades I've seen. The valuable extra security does mean the person configuring the system needs a higher level of knowledge but compared to stringing together several software products to make a computer secure it is a piece of cake.

It does take some technical skills. Enhancing security always makes things more complex but compared to removing trojans from computers, it is like taking candy from a baby. I'm sure a lot of the calls were just because consumers have a "firewall" for the first time (these have to be configured to allow some apps to function).
Posted by gometrics (1 comment )
Link Flag
2 CSR's are better than one?
I recently had to order 2 replacement batteries for my Dell. The off-shore CSR was very helpful, but the box arrived with just one battery, the packing slip said there was two. My call back took over 20 minutes and required 2 CSR's because the connection was so bad and I couldn't understand the second CSR. I sat and listened to them discuss the weather and soccer (while I wondered if the 2nd CSR was picking and boxing the second battery?). It arrived a day later by express. That had to be a loser for Dell. Definitely not the experience I expected from Dell. I'm glad to see some jobs are coming home and customer satisfaction won over price. Sometimes the problems to be solved out-weigh the benefits and it takes real analysis and observation not just cost to make the right decision.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Dell's Priority
Dell's Mott makes it clear that IT is too important to Dell to outsource; such, of course, was not the case with its customer service.
Posted by (1 comment )
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I cancelled my Dell Account
After 6 months of fruitless attempts to relate my issue to various 'service reps' in Bangladore (all with American Names such as Mike or Marie or Mark) I have cancelled my Dell Account and vowed to never use them again. I have made several attempts to email Michael Dell (Michael_Dell@dell.com) without response I made this drastic move. I own a high end commercial photography business with 7 work stations. When problems arise, we need answers, not canned replies from people who CLEARLY don't understand American ways.

Sad....
Posted by Flevine (1 comment )
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your an idiot
"I made this drastic move. I own a high end commercial photography business with 7 work stations." This is laughable, clearly if you owned at "High end Commercial photography buisness" you would own more then 7 "workstations". Hell I own 7 computers and not for a "High End" buisness but for my house. And! If you were that "High End" you would have your own IT guy (note that guy is not plural) working on your "7" workstations(LOL) you clearly are just looking for a way to make a company look bad. Grow up, go take a collage class, and learn to work on your own computers. But then again, with idiots like you, people like me stay in buisness, and trust me when I say this, Thats how all computer techs think.
Posted by ECL-Jintek (1 comment )
Link Flag
I dont blame you at all!! I used to have a Dell account also but cancelled it a while back. You get no where when you try to talk to the "main man".. It's such a joke!!!
Posted by sorryservice (5 comments )
Link Flag
Dell still need help
I have a Dell cpu that has not worked right since we got it... All the tech for the regular CPU systems are still over seas, as well as the customer service. I have been hung up on by their overseas support 3 times, as well as being transfered to wrong divisions(after already holding for 1 hour). I have had hold times of an hour, and the problem is the people DONT understand enough English and technical terms. I wrote a letter to the main branch in Texas, and never have heard back. Mycpu still doesnt work right, but I still have to pay for it.
Posted by (1 comment )
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your cpu..
Madam,

You must understand that if you tell them your CPU isn't working, they will not be able to help you.

Your CPU is merely a chip on your motherboard. When you get your computer working, (just call them up and tell them to send someone on-site and tell them you'll pay), get a copy of "How Things Work", so that you and your children can learn what is inside a computer and how it works.

The foreign technical support people get their education from the United States, and are often very bright. (speaking from my experience with Toshiba, where I call Turkey and other places. Toshiba has the #1 rating for PC laptops.) Keep in mind it's a Japanese company.
--Sam
Posted by smkatz (38 comments )
Link Flag
Dont I know your frustration.... The same thing has happened to me.. Dell needs to read these comments!!! Or Randy Mott does.
Posted by sorryservice (5 comments )
Link Flag
The whole story is wrong...
Those two lines mentioned above are NOT really for consumers, but for business. The consumer side (Dell Dimension, etc.) is still outsourced to India, Phillipines and other offshore sites!

I would not by another Dell until this policy permanently changes.

Thanks.
Posted by Compumind (98 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Free trade? Bad Trade...
Americans sold too much American real estate to foriegn
markets.... sold too many weapons too rogue nations, and now
were selling out on American workers.... how many Americans
are going to be training their overseas replacement... read the
news people, the free trade road show is comming to a town
near you.... remember, the politicians are touting a services
economy, well, is giving IT support for a product not a
service???? It's sad but Americans with more than enough
money will sell out for the big almighty at the drop of the hat.
That is what happened to the real estate in California... anyone
want to buy a 2 bd 2 ba house on a tiny lot for 500,000
dollars...?
jl
Posted by Jack Lemcke (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Free trade? Bad Trade...
Americans sold too much American real estate to foriegn
markets.... sold too many weapons too rogue nations, and now
we are selling out on American workers.... how many Americans
are going to be training their overseas replacement... read the
news people, the free trade road show is comming to a town
near you.... remember, the politicians are touting a services
economy, well, is giving IT support for a product not a
service???? It's sad but Americans with more than enough
money will sell out for the big almighty at the drop of the hat.
That is what happened to the real estate in California... anyone
want to buy a 2 bd 2 ba house on a tiny lot for 500,000
dollars...?
jl
Posted by Jack Lemcke (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good Technical Support From India
We Order atleast 200 Dell Desktops and Latitude every month.My company in Australia has being dealing with Dell for the past 5 years and so far we have had no issues with the Indian technical support. Probably because they have experienced staff handling their corporate account. My guys did have spoiled times when they dealt with the Malaysian tech support though.
Posted by (1 comment )
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I cannot understand the techs from INDIA..... for Dell computers
Posted by sorryservice (5 comments )
Link Flag
I bought my second computer from DELL last Feb 08 . It is an xps210 system ( desktop). Previously, I had bought a Dell computer that has never given me the problems this one has. I have had problems with my system from DAY 1.. After less than 6 months I had to completely restore my system. Then after then it has been problem after problem after problem. I have already had to have the speakers and subwoofer replaces, the printer, the video card x2. I have been patient in calling them trying to understand their voice, on numerous occasions. I have reformated this puter at least 4 times since I've had it. Right now I am having problems and I requested them send me a new system because it's still under warranty and they refuse!! This computer is just over a year old. I have been with tech after tech after tech that tell me the same thing and it never fixes it. One support representative lied to me about them sending me a new system, then suddenly I got cut off the phone, and I called back, had to explain everything over and over again, and they said they couldnt replace it. My warranty doesnt go out until 2010. I noticed they are still allowing out of the country people to answer the phone who don't know crap about my puter, they keep telling me the same thing over and over and I know there is a problem with my PC. I am tired and frustrated at DELL and I will never buy from them again. Their products appear to be refurbished to me or I got a lemon and they have offered me NOTHING but the same thing over and over like this: " a tech will come change the video card" this is the second time. I have reformated my puter so many times I forgot but they want me to do this again!!! Plus I will lose what I have AGAIN by reformating the dang thing. NEVER BUY A DELL COMPUTER, or at least NEVER BUY A XPS 210 system from them. They dont stand behind their products and you can never get to the right one until you stay on hold forever, then this one connects to this one and this one connects to another one and you wait again or you get cut off.. I hate DELL PRODUCTS and I used to love them.. Is there anything I can do now??? ,Besides threaten a lawsuit??? I already did that,,,,,,,,,
Posted by sorryservice (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
In addition to the comment I wrote on august 13th,2009. I have replaced both speakers and subwoofer, printer I had to buy because it went bad and they said that it wasnt under warranty. I know about computers and I dont care if some professional person comments on what I have said. It's NOT THE OPERATOR. I have been working with computers since 1997 and I know what I'd doing.. Just in case you want to say I don't know what I'm doing here or asking from DELL. In my opinion, Dell products are not the best you can buy. Their name is declining and it's because of so many sour computers they send out to us who pay out the waazoo for a system.. I paid over 2 grand for mine. The monitor is going to crap now.. But they think they can fix it with another video card.. We will see after this..... Opinion still stands, I would NOT advice anyone to purchase a Dell computer.......
Posted by sorryservice (5 comments )
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