Thursday, January 20, 2005

Why Should I Care?

Once again, I have been sucked into believing the ever so polite promises and apologies, the soothing tones, the earnest wishes that my life might be so much better offered up by Dell Computer customer service. Followed by inadequate follow-through, bad organization, the occasional inept trainee, all knotted together in a sequence of bungling mis-steps so horrific that it would seem planned. Surely nobody could organize ineptitude on such a grand scale, but how do they do it?

The apologies erupt again, but thirty days after a hard drive failure, the cost of exercising the warranty has officially exceeded its value. I simply can’t bear to talk to them again. Another week or so, and I should be back in operation, but that seems to me as a business customer like a long time to get a hard drive replaced.

From experience, I know that it helps me keep my cool when I document abysmal customer service, step by step, name by name. Sometimes when everything goes as badly as the experience with Dell, I spruce up my notes and send them to the company. In Dell’s case, my notes ran to 6 pages of 9 point type. Who knows? They might learn something, but probably not.

I wish I could say the exercise of tattling to Michael Dell had been cathartic, but no. I honestly cannot imagine a circumstance in which I would expose myself to another dose of Dell. So why should I care?

I always care when I see such waste. When people have my good regard and throw it away…stupidly…it’s a shame. Dell will live very well without me, and I will live just fine without Dell. So why should I care?

Maybe it’s just that I am fascinated by good customer service on those rare occasions where genuine courtesy replaces scripts, where attention to the customer’s real need dominates the choices the supplier makes, and where team efforts triumph over slow computer links or horrendous nested phone messages. It happens from time to time, and the company who can make it work gets my business again and again. Companies who are merely adequate at customer service annoy me from time to time, but hardly ever completely alienate me. It takes a dedicated multiplicative effort at unacceptable responses to make me say, “I won’t be buying Dell again.”

1 comment:

Robert said...

How sad, Dell used to have the best customer service group. I can recall a time when they spent an inordinate amount of time helping me out, and that's why the last computer I bought was a Dell. Alas, service got flushed sometime between my initial encounter and the last purchase. I think they have outsourced some of their service to India. In any event, like you, I have bought my last Dell machine.

In fact, I have bought my last Windows machine. The next will be a Mac, or a system running Linux (later versions of Linux have been significantly better to load and manage than they used to be). I just can't take any more poor workmanship that is the de facto trademark of Microsoft.