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dell_stock_chart.jpgBy B.L. Ochman The brouhaha over Dell’s terrible customer service is playing out not just in the blogosphere, but also on Wall Street, where Dell stock has plunged. The Wall Street Journal reports:

“Dell Inc. [the world’s largest computer maker] said it expects revenue and earnings in the second quarter to come in lower than forecast, amid aggressive pricing in a slowing computer market. Shares of Dell tumbled more than 10% to five-year lows.
The Round Rock, Texas, company, which issued a similar warning for the first quarter, has struggled lately to generate growth in its U.S. business amid increased competition from the likes of Hewlett-Packard Co. and Asian PC makers. Dell recently has also suffered from customer-service complaints.

This is a sad story because Dell began as an upstart American company with Michael Dell as its recognizeable and outspoken leader. He hasn’t said a word on the company’s new Dell one2one blog. He wasn’t quoted in the Journal article. He’s not on the cover of Forbes or Fortune defending his company and he’s not talking about Dell’s new thrust to be the best at customer service.
Where are you Michael Dell!? Your company is sick and you’re the guy who can restore confidence in it. Not a marketing guy, not a PR person, not any spokesman … you. No platitudes. No philosophy. No corporate speak. You! What the hell are you waiting for?

When Dell’s problem resolution specialist called me, as he’s called many other bloggers, he asked me what it would take to make me buy another Dell. He offered to cut me a check for the $40 piece of software a non-English-speaking person forced me to re-purchase instead of sending someone to fix my defective CDR drive.
That’s the shame of it. It’s not about the $40 Dell made me waste a year and a half ago. It’s about being treated badly, not having your expensive “gold” service contract honored without an argument. It’s about listening.
The majority of complaints aren’t about Dell’s products. They are about its service. Dell makes machines. Machines have moving parts. Parts break. If Dell fixes them as promised, life goes on. But that has not been the case.
Tens of thousands of customers can’t all have a vendetta against Dell. The truth is, tens of thousands of customers have received abysmal customer service from Dell and now we’ve bought other company’s computers.
Even so, the problem is fixable. Put your money where your mouth is NOW, skip the philosophy because nobody wants to hear it. All we want to know is when you’re going to provide the better service you are promising.
I told Mr Fixit (who’s since disappeared, by the way) that the way to start was to get my comments published on the Dell blog. So now they’re there. A post referred to me. My response was quickly posted. That’s satisfying.
Yet it made me feel sorry for Dell because they just haven’t understood the revolution that’s gone on around them. Customers are in charge now. We’re gnarly, and snarky, and we’ll take our business to your competitor if you don’t listen to us. We have lots of options.
That message needs to sink in at Dell. Or otherwise, clearly, it’s going to be curtains for what once was a really amazing company. This is for all the marbles.
Clearly, Dell knows they have to improve their service or die. The decision to start the Dell one2one blog last week was fueled by the company’s need to communicate that it’s listening. The one2one blog, despite its blatant faults, is a start.
Dell told the Journal:

“Dell continues to make significant investments in customer service and support capabilities. The company is seeing positive results and will continue to invest to drive a superior customer experience.” Dell also said it has made significant investments in its products and expects to deliver a greatly expanded product line in the second half of the year.

But that’s all just talk. Stop talking. Start doing.