Not Quite There Yet

I’ve been writing a lot lately about talent management and the importance of having a well-trained, motivated workforce to deliver the “brand promise” and maintain high levels of customer service, even (or especially) during a global recession. In a perfect world, consumers would receive consistently positive service and support across all channels – in a store, on the Web, from the call center, all staffed by helpful employees who are empowered to go off script and help consumers make  informed buying decisions or solve their problems quickly. 

If my current experience with Dell is any indication, we’ve got a long way to go. (Cue the violins.)

I’m shopping for a new desktop for my business. Dell is the only PC maker I’ve found offering free “downgrades” from Vista to Windows XP. I’ve got the model I want – a Vostro 420 Tower – and I’m clicking through their wizard to customize the system (bigger hard drive, etc.). I don’t need a monitor – but there’s only a pick list for different size displays, not for purchasing the system without one. Stuck. OK, let’s try the live chat feature. I fill out my name, type my question, submit – error message. Try again (sometimes technology doesn’t like the apostrophe in my name) – same message. I wait 10 minutes, try one  more time, with less text – same error.

So I clicked around, found an email for sales/pre-sales support, which seemed logical. Sent this email: 

I’ve been trying to customize a Vostro 420 tower, have a question about ordering the system without a monitor, tried to chat 3 times and got this msg:

SOAP-ENV:ServerUnable to Connect to Talisma Server at 143.166.82.15Request exceeds maximum size99999

Not efficient!

Regards,

Rob O’Regan

I received a prompt reply, but not what I was expecting/hoping for: 

Dear Rob O’Regan:

Thank you for choosing Dell. You have reached the Small to Medium Business Online Order Resolution team.  

Whats the question?

Thank you for choosing Dell.

Respectfully,

SMB Online Sales

Dell, Inc.

3 issues here – 1) using my full name (smacks of automation or outsourcing), 2) Nice tone! 3) anonymously signed. But hey, at least I got a response, and an offer to help (sort of). So I rephrase the original question: 

The question was whether I can configure the Vostro 420 without a monitor – I don’t get that option when I’m customizing.

Thank you. 

This response took a little longer, but was equally unhelpful: 

Dear Rob O’Regan:

Thank you for choosing Dell. You have reached the Small to Medium Business Online Order Resolution team.  

The system can be configured w/monitor but you will need to configure the lowest starting package.

Thank you for choosing Dell.

Respectfully,

SMB Online Sales

Clearly I’m missing the whole satisfying customer experience thing here. Probably my fault.

3/14 update: After being chastised by my buddy David Churbuck, VP of global Web marketing at Lenovo (or whatever his title is now), I bought a Lenovo ThinkCentre A57 Tower – and so far, it runs like a dream. Thanks DC!

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