Dell, which has lost so much of its mojo in recent years that Michael Dell was forced come out of retirement, has decided its salvation will come from better customer service so it’s launched two new initiatives – Dell IdeaStorm and StudioDell, which, in theory, will let customers have more effective ways to provide ideas and feedback. IdeaStorm is a Digg-like service, while StudioDell lets people upload videos. What I want to know is where’s Jeff Jarvis, who ignited the “Dell Hell” campaign in 2005 when he blogged about his unhappiness with a Dell computer. Maybe Jarvis has cooled down since meeting Michael Dell in Davos recently.
While you have to give Dell credit for putting a renewed focus on customer service, you have to wonder where they went wrong given Dell is a marketing and sales company as opposed to a computer manufacturer. How did Dell lose focus on the customer when the customer was supposed to be its focus? If you think about Dell’s roots in which Michael Dell was building computers in his dorm room, you have to believe customer service was a key part of his entrepreneurial DNA and success.
Maybe it’s difficult to keep you focus on the customer when you get big and successful. Maybe outsourcing customer service off-shore – while cost-effective – creates a gap between you and your customer because your not directly dealing with the customer any more. Give Dell credit for trying to focus on the customer again. While they’re at it, they should do some work on improving the quality of their products, which have lost their premium cache in recent years.
For more thoughts, check out Read Write/Web, which provides an overview on IdeaStorm and StudioDell; Peter Cashmore, who blasts Dell for ripping off Digg; and the Guardian’s Jack Schofield, who describes IdeaStorm as “brilliant” while noting that two top ideas so far are that “Dell should provide the option of a crap-free installation (ie without the junk paid for by Google* and assorted anti-virus vendors), and that Dell should “own” green the way Apple “owns” pretty”.