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Dell: More, Not Better, Call Centers The Answer!
[August 31, 2006]

Dell: More, Not Better, Call Centers The Answer!

TMCnet Contributing Editor

Dell (News - Alert) will open its second customer contact center in The Philippines early next year to provide additional technical support for U.S. consumers, company officials have announced. The new site is expected to take its first customer calls in February 2007.

Richard "Dick" Hunter, Dell's vice president for Americas customer experience and support has gone on record as saying that the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker's existing Philippine call center in Pasay City has done "an excellent job in answering customer questions and solving their issues."

Every man has his own opinion, I guess.

This year, Dell is trying to shore up its customer satisfaction by sinking more than $150 million in contact centers, including training and introduction of new service tools such as DellConnect is a technology that uses broadband connections to let Dell's support teams diagnose and troubleshoot technical issues remotely.

DellConnect, company officials claim, has "nearly 95 percent customer satisfaction among the more than one million customers who have had their issue resolved by agents using the tool," no doubt a far higher percentage than among customers relegated to Dell's infamous overseas call centers, notorious for poor service levels.

"What's the No. 1 criticism leveled at Dell?" the Motley Fool's Rich Smith asked, rather rhetorically, last week. "All together now: shoddy customer service. Customer service reps sitting who knows where, picking up and answering the phone who knows when, and providing advice that may or may not work."

Dell would like you to think it's "doing something" about the problem. They have recently cited the annual University of Michigan American Consumer Satisfaction Index, where their scores "improved 2.5 points overall." They don't say from where to where, however, or where their scores are in relation to their competitors.

Yet the fact remains that Dell's offshore customer service reps are generally costing the company customer loyalty. One solution to this problem, Smith proposes, is to hire more customer service reps here in the States. "But that costs money, and Dell is trying to cut costs even as it improves 'quality,'" Smith notes.

In March, Dell Chairman Michael Dell announced the expansion of Dell's Pasay City customer support center from 700 employees to 1,400. It currently employs 900 customer support representatives.

In the last two years, Dell has announced or opened 10 new customer contact centers.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. For more articles please visit David Sims’ columnist page.

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