Dick Hunter of Dell – Part 3 of 3

This is the third (and final) part of the interview with Dick Hunter, Vice President of Customer Experience and Support at Dell.

In this part of the interview, Dick discusses what Dell’s biggest disadvantages are, what marketing efforts they have made, what he thinks people can learn from Dell (with tips about operations), and where he thinks Dell’s service is now.

Question: What about Dell’s biggest disadvantage – what is it?
Answer: I think we have to overcome some of the bad mistakes we’ve made in the past. If someone bought a system a year ago and they had a bad experience, that bad experience stays with them until they want to buy another one. I really worry that where we used to have fantastic service levels and we degraded pretty significantly – I want to win back those people.

It’s hard to prove you’ve got a much better service model if they have never experienced a better one. I really think that will be the key mill stone around our neck. Until we can have more experiences with people and show them that we are doing significantly better, and prove it to them on a case by case basis.

Question: Has Dell made any efforts through marketing to tell about its new customer service efforts?
Answer: Not yet, but we will be, probably in the June – July time. To me, it’s been “Let me go off and fix it and get it definitely better” before we start trumpeting it from the hilltops. I am feverishly putting that North America based support offering in place to make that happen. Once we have that in place, coupled with some of the actions we’ve taken to turn around that experience, that is when we will go more public with it. We’ll never be 100% – no one will be 100%. There will still be some bad experiences, which obviously we don’t want to happen, but will. When we get to the 85% satisfaction level, then we can start promoting it more. By the way, that satisfaction level is based on a 9 point scale, 1 being terrible, 9 being great. If someone would rate us an 8 or 9, they are satisfied. If they are anything less than that, then they are dissatisfied.

Question: You’ve read Service Untitled. What do you think Dell does differently that other companies and the people who read Service Untitled can learn from?
Answer: Let me start with a little bit of history: As I mentioned a little bit ago, my background is in manufacturing and distribution. Michael and I talked about me doing this job some time ago. It wouldn’t look like it is a natural fit for a manufacturing and distribution to be running customer call centers. The theory here is that we would bring the rigor and the discipline that is in the manufacturing world, especially in Dell’s manufacturing world, to the contact center world.

One of the things that is very prominent within manufacturing and Dell and many progressive manufacturing companies is this notion of “LEAN” techniques. What LEAN is really about is adding value to the customer. LEAN is a very regimented way of approaching an operation or a process to improve it. That is what we are applying now to our call centers –these LEAN techniques.

For example, one of the things we are doing is to experiment in ways to create a true relationship with a customer. While one may argue that many of our competitors and those in the industry view the consumer as a transaction to where they go buy a computer – that is just a one-off transaction; they have a service plan, that’s another transaction; and it’s just transaction by transaction, not a fundamental relationship.

What we want to do is create a fundamental relationship with our customers. When you have millions of customers like we do, it’s virtually impossible to have a one to one relationship between an agent and a customer like you might with your doctor that you go down the road to. That’s not going to necessarily happen.

But what Michael is kind of coupling is this notion of LEAN along with this notion of a relationship with a customer – we are experimenting now with a team concept where a team would own a certain set of customers. If you ever had a question or a problem, you’d call a dedicated team of people and the team might be 20 folks. That team would always be the ones that would take care of you. Even though the individual agents might get promoted, leave, etc. – the team will stay together and the team would have all of the records. You would call into that team.

The scenario might be a customer calls me on the Purple 5 team and the customer is dedicated to the Purple 5 team and we’re dedicated to the customer. The customer calls and I solve the problem. Then, six months later, you call in to the Purple 5 team (they would have their own 800 number) and say “Hey, I’m looking for Dick.” and say Richard was a teammate of mine. Richard might say “ Dick sat next to me – he got promoted and we’re all happy for him, but I’ve been on the Purple 5 team for a year. I’ve got your records right here – what can I do for you?”

What this is about is bringing more value to the customer relationship and to create more of a relationship than a one off transactional deal.

We have some great tools that these folks can use. Things like Dell Connect, where you can remotely take over a system. Other companies can do that. We’re bringing more of the service center to the desktop. These are all ways to connect with Dell to create more of this relationship.

I’m sure others are doing some of this, but my fundamental goal is to create what I call the trusted adviser role. I want to be the trusted adviser to all of our customers.

Question: If you had to rate Dell’s overall service on a 1 – 9 scale right now, with 9 being where you want it to be in the long term and 1 being the worst case, how would you rate it?
Answer: Probably a 6. I think we have a ways to go to where we want to be. We’ve made good progress. Maybe 6.5. I’m kind of anal like that.

Question: Anything to add?
Answer: I would just say that we are in a mode of a turnaround. I think Michael being back, Dell 2.0, which is kind is an umbrella view of the various things we want to change in our business has taken hold really well with my support team.

We’ve made really good progress and helped turned things around, but I don’t think we will ever be quite satisfied with where we are. We want to continue to push the envelope on service offering, tools and capabilities that our agents have to offer and use with our customers.

We want to give our customers more tools to fix their own problems and make it easier to call on us for help. My ultimate goal is to create this Dell as a trusted adviser role for our customers. I want it to be so that the reason people will buy from Dell is because of our service. It used to be that way, we lost it, and desperately and very eagerly want that back.

One Response to “Dick Hunter of Dell – Part 3 of 3”

  1. Service Untitled » Dick Hunter, VP of Customer Experience at Dell - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    May 17, 07 at 9:59 am

    […] Part 3 – Link In this third and final part of the interview, Dick tells us what Dell’s biggest disadvantages are, what marketing efforts they have made, what he thinks people can learn from Dell (with tips about operations), and where he thinks Dell’s service is now. Technorati tags: Dell, Dick Hunter, Interview, Customer Service « Dick Hunter of Dell – Part 2 of 3   Dick Hunter of Dell – Part 3 of 3 » […]