Parks Associates Blog

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dell is Geeking Out

I'm a little late with this blog, but I thought it was interesting to see Dell's announcement that they're now providing more comprehensive digital home technical support services. Dell's expanding services beyond its legacy "Dell Connect" diagnostic software. Dell’s new premium support service is to provide a dedicated team of technical professionals which customers can contact directly for support of any Dell-branded product. This new fee-based offering is designed specifically for those customers who want to engage with the same dedicated team each time they have an issue with any of their in-warranty Dell-branded products. The company is also planning to provide new services for customers who buy Dell products through retail. Those services, available on Dell and other-branded systems, include home television installation, home theater set-up, technology integration, and other services that can help customers build out their digital lifestyle infrastructure. Given that Dell was particularly skewered recently by reports of poor customer service, any repositioning of services as providing a more customized and effective means of troubleshooting is probably a good bet for a company looking to reclaim some lost luster in the PC space.

Speaking of enhanced home IT customer support, for a few months now, I've been trying out a service from Clean Machine. The company offers a "PC Concierge" service where a remote technician regularly performs maintenance and performance optimization service. Many of the services they offer are the kind of standard checks that all of us probably should be doing on a regular basis but don't. They check for spyware and viruses, run disk defragmentation, and ensure proper configuration of applications such as Windows Firewall.

One nice feature of the service is the PC Concierge's detailed report that provides information about the services that they did on the home computer. I am amazed every month at the number of spyware/infected objects that they remove each month! They also include a detailed activity log that shows exactly what the technician did. The company has strict security and privacy policies in place (to the point of providing keystroke monitoring of the technicians). AIG - one of the largest insurance companies in the world - offers their PC and Internet security insurance.

Whether regular maintenance and optimization functions are being performed by a remote technician (a la Clean Machine) or are enabled through software dashboards, this sort of proactive service is a critical element of the whole customer support lifecycle. The more problems that can be diagnosed and corrected proactively, there is a greatly reduced chance of a PC manufacturer or service provider receiving lots of phone calls, many of which are considered out-of-scope. There should be a significant opportunity for these services and solutions.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised to hear of poor customer service reports on Dell. I've had very good service from them and have had marathon sessions on the phone where the Dell representative has been extremely patient and helpful in troubleshooting problems with my Dell PC.

In fact, coupled with the ease of purchasing Dell products, it has become an easy and convenient way for me to get PC products fast. :)

5:07 AM  

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