Last week the hard drive on my Dell XPS M1530 got put on life support. Bad blocks, unreadable system files, etc. After an hour of trying to repair Vista and failing on one system file after another I gave up and did the diagnostics check. Yup, drive passed on.
So I contacted Dell Online Support hoping that I would get a quick and painless part replacement under warranty. You can kind of guess where this is heading but keep on reading, there is an important lesson here. After jumping through the Dell hoops and redoing all the steps the Dell technician made me do before he finally shipped the drive I was asked to hold on:
Please give me 2 more minutes my manager would like to have a word with you.
Manager was very polite but I doubt he liked my answer to his question. The issue with support is that we as technical people feel we are beyond process, we know what we are doing so please skip the level 101 stupid questions. The more basics you put me through, the more upset I get. So the more Dell tried to help, the more time I wasted on what was ultimately about $80.
I just wanted to check your experience on Chat with him.
12:35:55 PM Agent Sup_Aamer_52067
Was he able to handle the problem to your satisfaction?
12:36:17 PM Customer Vladimir Mazek
Honestly, I would not rank your support as satisfactory or recommend Dell based on this support call.
12:36:29 PM Customer Vladimir Mazek
However, I do understand you have a process in place for very good reasons and I can respect that.
We went back and forth a little and he did explain the reason why the basics are done (few items I was not aware of, for example they track error codes that are produced by their diagnostics software so they can track defects)
But the point is that this conversation about improving their process really did nothing for me as a customer. I had a piece of electronics which is prone to failure, it failed, I spent my time and then spent it again to get the replacement, no amount of explanation was going to make me feel good about what had happened. They could have thrown a Dell Mini my way, a 42” plasma screen, I still would be shooting time down the sinkhole that is an issue I wish had not happened in the first place.
And if I had unreasonable expectation that everything should work 100% in 100% of the time I wouldn’t be in IT.
Here is where the conversation went to an eventful draw that 99.999% of the support calls end with – both parties are dissatisfied with the outcome. The support did all they could and the customer is still unhappy.
12:41:28 PM Customer Vladimir Mazek
And I did comply with the script and the process.
12:41:38 PM Agent Sup_Aamer_52067
We pass on the error code to the concerned department so that they work on it and try to minimize those errors.
12:41:50 PM Agent Sup_Aamer_52067
Yes. And we really appreciate that.
12:41:52 PM Customer Vladimir Mazek
But you did ask me if I was satisfied with your support and frankly the answer to that is no, I was not.
12:42:21 PM Customer Vladimir Mazek
But I do appreciate the effort and the help and the new hard drive.
This sucks for everyone involved. Dell support gets a bad rep, I probably get dinged a few support points which assures I’m labeled as a jerk never to go above and beyond for because I am holding Dell to an unfair standard.
But this is where he won the ball game. We continued to chat about process, etc and after I summed up my main point of contention:
12:44:31 PM Agent Sup_Aamer_52067
I will take this feedback and make sure that my agents work on it.
Lie to me Jerry, lie to me!
I have no idea if Aamer is going to take the feedback I gave him to his supervisors or if he just got another jerk off his support queue. But the above made me feel really good.
My feedback counted for something, more importantly, I was at least indirectly assured that I was right in my request and not insanely demanding.
There are two outcomes that can be taken with any complaint:
- Customer is wrong, f em. They lose.
- Customer is right, let’s fix it. They win.
Almost all support cases end up in one of the two buckets. Then there is that third area which makes both parties share a bit of the victory. I feel like I did my diagnostics and assured the first guy that the drive is dead. They feel like they did their job and got me a replacement. But neither of us is perfectly satisfied. Did Dell concede that it was their fault? No. Did I concede that their process makes perfect sense? No.
But I walk away from an incident that I wish I didn’t have to be involved in feeling like the next experience won’t be a negative one.
When you fail people that is pretty much all you can give them, faith that the next experience will be better. Behind the scenes, you work damn hard to make sure the conversation never repeats.
The joy of customer service.