Friday, May 25, 2007

Wal-mart to sell Dell computers

TWICE: Wal-Mart To Carry Dell Computers
Bentonville, Ark. – Dell has opened up distribution to Wal-Mart Stores in a dramatic expansion of its retail strategy.
Beginning June 10, over 3,000 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico will carry up to two Dimension desktop SKUs. The multi-media models are being built exclusively for Wal-Mart, and will be sold in brick-and-mortar stores only in package bundles for under $700.


...

According to a Dell spokesperson, the agreement with Wal-Mart represents the first step in a new, overarching global retail strategy. The new plan follows a shakeup of senior management, and CEO Michael Dell’s declaration that the company must look beyond its traditional consumer-direct model, as it endeavors to restore its marketplace dominance. Dell continues to sell its custom-configured PCs direct through its Web site, catalog, kiosks and lone retail store in Dallas.

Do you know what this strategy is called? It's the Throw Everything On The Wall And See What Sticks strategy. By basically opening their distribution to Wal-mart, QVC, Costco and any other big box store who can write a cheque, Dell is looking for a quick and easy boost to their numbers by being available everywhere. Dell will be in Best Buy before you know it, mark my words.

As far as choosing Wal-mart to promote their brand, there is no truth to the rumor that Michael Dell thought that the level of service offered in their call centers wasn't low enough, and he figured only some poor disenfranchised soul in a blue smock could take the service level down a notch or two.

I tried to come up with some insulting variation of the iconic "Dude! You're getting a Dell!" but I've got nothing...

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19 comments:

Charles Farley said...

This will prove to be interesting. It completely goes against the Dell model of keeping the customer at arms length. No more will you have to deal with some bloke at half way around the world at the end of an IP PBX call transfer...you will be able to a close encounter with a Blue Smocked Wonder.

I guess I won't mind not having to wait 45 minutes to speak with someone who has no capacity to converse with me, the customer, in my language. But now I will have to deal with someone who could say take this $7/hr job and shove it as he reached across the counter, grabs my laptop and chucks it into the craft aisle...or was that ready to assemble furnature.

Wal-mart's return policy with vendors is pretty darn draconian. The boys at Dell best get some knee pads and astro-glide.

I wonder what they will call their variation of the Geek Squad? The Bentonville Byte Busters?

RichardatDELL said...

Hi Lee and Charley
Appreciate the comments and perspective and wanted you to know we are listening and undertaking numerous changes at Dell. We appreciate commentary from you and also, obviously, hope someday you might have a changed perspective.

That won't happen unless we earn your support and hopefully with time, we might manage to do that.

In the meantime, just wanted to offer a perspective that is a little different. The changes we are making are not just to throw things against the wall and see what sticks. The changes are part of Michael Dell's leadership to turn around our business and most importantly because we are listening to customers and focusing on what they tell us.

Thats why we continue to offer XP, its why we have expanded our Linux offerings, its why we have a Spanish and Mandarin blog....and the list goes on.

While you might feel that we are distant from customers, we are very much refocused on our customers -- listening learning and hearing them every day, on our blog, in conversations, at Ideastorm and sites just like this one.

In an interview with Fortune magazine last fall Michael Dell talked about how we needed to change our approach to technical support...and we are doing that. That change has included spending an additional $150 million in new training and tools for staff, new and expanded technical support teams here in North America and numerous other actions to reverse the decline in technical support. Just in the last couple weeks our senior executive for technical support talked about these issues at www.serviceuntitled.com and on our own blog.

Did we make mistakes? You bet. Are we perfect? No. Are we where we want to be? Not yet. We are seeing significant improvements but we are not where we want to be or should be. Are we hard at it? You are darn right we are.

Its why we are currently seeking customer views on several new technical support ideas at Dell's Ideastorm.

I hope you will drop by and share your views or suupport the ideas you like. In the meantime, we do appreciate the feedback and your perspective is understood and noted.

Charles Farley said...

Dearest Richard...or may I call you Dick?

I own 4 Dells and an HP so I get the pleasure of speaking from the perspective of one who has received the full Dell We Care So Much from 13,000 miles away customer experience.

You don't focus on customers, you try things to cut costs and see which ones customers will tolerate. Excuse me, may I put you on hold for a few minutes?

...
....
.....

Thank you sir, please tell me your full name and address registered to the system.

-

To quote the great minor league fitness celeb Dan John -- the best way to keep in shape is not to get out of shape. I don't care what Mike Dell has planned, I care about the current state of affairs. Right now, Dell support stinks. Dell's service stinks. Dell's attitude stinks.

G-d where to begin? You offer XP b/c no one needs Vista. It is a want...not a need. Hells bells, it isn't even stable yet. No IT shop worth its weight will do boo before SP1 comes out. You ever try taking a system from XP to Vista? I would like to see Mike Dell do that.

Customers pay the fucking bills. Why would you ever have to become "refocused"?

...
....
Excuse me, may I put you on hold for a few minutes?

...
....
.....

Thank you sir, please tell me your full name and address registered to the system.

I am sorry sir, that is registered to the small business division, I am sorry that I can not help you. This is the home and home based business division. May I transfer you?

--

Your SVP for Technical Support should experience life at the end of someone half way around the world who can not effectively communicate with the customer in the customer's language. What if all business was done that way?


I've been around computers for almost 30 years...built my own, could at one time program in 6502, Z80 and 8080 assembler (as a kid), had an original IBM PC with the 16K motherboard (yea, that one)...I know hardware and software...better than the morons at the end of the support line...you should spend some time talking to me.

And answer me this Dick, why, in a Dell support chat session, it takes on the average of 90 seconds for the tech to respond to simple questions? It is incompresensible...I can send you my last chat log if you'd like.


It is a PC...people want simple, fast and reliable. Anything else is an upsell.

Respectfully,

Charles Farley

Anonymous said...

Dick would have answered by now but he is busy receiving the "Dell Employee Suggestion of the Week" award for recommending customers upload their chat logs. His picture is on the Dell intra-net for 7 days and he get a virtual executive parking spot for the same amount of time.

RichardatDELL said...

Hi Charles. I apologize for the frustration we have caused. I am listening and I hear you on behalf of Dell. We are working hard to change. I came here to enter the conversation and listen, not to be abused or insulted or as anonymous suggests, to be employee of the week. I checked back several times yesterday and there were no comments, then got involved in some other conversations that were productive and thoughtful. I thought that was what blogs and conversations were about.

We understand our service is not where it was, or where it should be. I work hard for Dell. I listen to our customers and join conversations. I take your feedback seriously and I work to improve things inside Dell. Id be happy to take a look at the chat session and follow up with our support teams.

Lee_D said...

Hi Richard.

Mr Farley has forwarded me his tech support transcript. I will edit it for anonymity, as he has requested, and will post it later today.

I appreciate your attention to the topics discussed on my blog. Mr Farley is a dear friend of mine, but bear in mind that I take no responsibility for his anger management issues.

RichardatDELL said...

Look forward to reviewing the transcript and providing to the chat support team as example of things gone wrong it sounds like. You can also e-mail to me should you want.

We usually find the conversations on blogs to be helpful and we are making a lot of efforts to listen and learn. Appreciate your effort here and the views expressed here.

Flatland Pastor said...

Nice save Lee.

Hey everybody, remember to give as much weight, respect and consideration to our ubiquitous commenter A. Nonymous as that person has earned.

I know, I know, I use a "nom de plume" as a blogger, but you can get to me personally at my site. As for A. Nonymous, well if you can't own what you say what can you call your own at all? If you're lurking out there and you have any courage at all - which for my money would be hard to prove - go here and read. You are not required to agree, but you are invited to consider.

Shalom.
(Looking for all I can find. Sharing all I have.)

Sorry Lee! You know I can't resist an out of control spiral. Wheeeeee!

Charles Farley said...

Richard,

You will be able to figure out who I am if you can operate text matching software and comb though the logs....I would say "grep it", but that would give away my age. If you do, call me and we can talk one on one.

I'll give you an honest perspective and a be fair about it.

Right now I have to deal with the fact that the BancTec tech totally trashed out the unit...that will be the chat Lee will post.

-cf

Anonymous said...

Hey Flatland it is Anonymous and I'm ubiquitous. Bahahahahwhahawhwa

Lee_D said...

Good morning all.

As promised, you can click through to Google Documents to read Mr Farley's tech support transcript here:

http://businessopinions.blogspot.com/2007/06/contentious-dell-support-chat-log.html

RichardatDELL said...

Lee_D and Charles
I have just compoleted reviewing the chat log and first want to thank you for sharing, and second apologize...or should it be the other way around. Anyway, thats a mess and not the kind of service one can be proud of. I am almost afraid to ask for the fear of anger (legitimate i do say) about to come my way...but I am correct in understanding the second service call has not yet occurred? So Cahrles, you are in the position of the computer not working as noted at beginning of chat session....you are waiting?

RichardatDELL said...

Charles,
not to bore you with all the details but the way we store logs etc. grepping it is not going to lead me to you.

However, the issue sounds like something we can handle easily- it's a matter of getting a tech to your house with the right parts to replace what the last tech did not. I am so sorry for this issue!

So two options to find you.
1. lee can likely see my email here, so he can put us in touch by email.
2. you can email "customer_advocate@dell.com"
In the "re/subject" line please reference: "RichardatDELL, Charles Farley Blog conversation". In the body please include your service tag, case number and phone number to help us pull up the complete file in the database and we will back to you and get this solved asap

Charles Farley said...

Hey Richard,

thanks for your concern. you are indeed correct, I am awaiting the next service call.

I am not mad, just disappointed. I wouldn't begin to take my anger out on you...it may feel good, but it isn't productive.

I am happy to e-mail you, I will get your info from Lee.

I find that the post sale customer service side to be the most disappoint. Not the fact that damn near every laptop you sell comes with different ac adapter...the fact that when I finally get in touch with a tech person (which isn't that often for me, cause I can fix quite a bit on my own) I am confronted with an individual who can not effectively communicate with me, the customer, in my language. I don't pay in rupees, bhat, yuan or sheckles...please converse with me in the "expected" language of someone call from the US.

I don't appreciate how the "gold service" gets me stateside support...in the good old days I could talk to someone who could carry on reasonable conversation with me and get me to the right resource promptly. I'll wait my turn, I don't expect to go to the front of the queue immediately.

Heck, when I had a gateway laptop, it had an issue that I correctly diagnosed with the tech on the phone and he transferred me to the lead tech b/c the issue was over his head at level 1. I was, within 20 minutes talking to the person who was employee #33 at the whole damn company. That was impressive. He couldn't fix the problem either, but offered me a complete and total refund right there on the spot b/c "his" product (he took personal ownership) didn't correctly function for the application I required. It should have, but there was an engineering issue preventing it from happening.

You guys need that Forrest Gump moment, where after he has run for 3.5 years, he stops in the middle of the road, puts that part of his life behind him and goes back to Bayou LaBattry (sp?) to mow the football field (think simplicity here...not lawn care).

Features and options sell the margin, I get that. but give me fast, reliable, sturdy and cost effective. I can say all of those conficiting features b/c afterall, I am the customer and that is what I want.

Dell makes a good computer. The a/c adapters fail at the point of insertion too much, but other than that, they are fundamentally fine machines for their price point. You're not trying to be Alien Ware, and that is fine. If you became them, I would have taken my $$ elsewhere.

Back to the orginal hoo-ha. I am waiting for the BancTec rep to call and arrange a time to fix the unit. I did call BancTec's 800 number, they punched my tough shit card with the response, it worked when the tech left your house it was working, we did our part.

Needless to say I was disappointed with them. I called the area manager. He was very nice, but his hands "are tied" until the next dispatch comes through.

The malacious obediance (everyone does their little piece of thejob without respect to the big picture)isn't a good service package. I did my piece, to bad it isn't compatible with a) the next guy in the service chain or b) getting to the end result of servicing the customer. The big picture -- me -- is lost on this model of outsourced Three Stoogery.

I will be in touch with you.

best wishes.

CF

Lee_D said...

RichardatDELL, please drop me a line at leeUNDERSCOREdistadATyahooDOTcom, and I'll get the two of you together.

Flatland Pastor said...

If there is anyone reading this thread who is responsible for what passes for customer service at the company they work for then let it be suggested that the true quality of your company can be measured by how much your customers' service issue experiences do not resemble this example. It may be a basic principle, but if you can teach and empower all of your employees to do this you'll be miles ahead of your competition.

Here endeth the lesson(for now).

*As the sounds of Elton John's "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" swell we fade to black.*

RichardatDELL said...

Pastor...I am just trying to be a candle in the wind, which might also be a lesson for other companies.

Charles, email sent to Lee so we can connect. My apologies....I took the weekend off to mourn Sam the record man closing ;-) and get some rest.

Once you contact me, I am going to involve a Tech support agent from a special "swat team" to support me in getting things fixed. But I will not be "passing you off" and he is not 13000 miles away...rather a couple steps away from me.

Ill stick with the you and the next steps. Lets resolve things

Charles Farley said...

Richard,

I must say that your response and those of your team members has been outstanding.

If this is the way Dell is going to embrace service...the world will be yours.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Wal-Mart will ever be able to fix Dell computers. The sales person who sold me mine said they were getting a service center soon???