Dell promises retail outlets..does a lot of listening too.
Last week I spent a busy day in Toronto at a Dell Customer Advisory Panel session..the first one in Canada. We started an 9AM and went until 5PM and covered a lot of ground on topics ranging from sustainability to Customer service to the buying experience as well as the impact of social networks. All of it recorded for posterity by two talented artists from ThinkLink Graphics.
The Dell folks at the table made it clear they were there to listen to the twenty or so people from across Canada in attendance..they included bloggers, computer users, enterprise users, social networking experts and even a TV producer..an interesting cross section of people.
We started off with the Customer support discussion while we were all fresh and did the folks from Dell get an earful. Not to sat Dell’s customer support is all that bad horror stories tend to dominate these discussions..nobody talks about great customer service 🙂 There were the expected complaints about offshore support and the problems it creates and the multiple handoffs requiring the caller to repeat his story to a new support person every time. I noticed the Dell folks writing heavily during these discussions which also included some good suggestions. It was clear Dell was aware of many of the issues and was working on ways to fix them.
Next was the buying experience and the apparent reluctance of Canadians to buy online compared to their American counterparts. The price issue came in for a lot of discussion as consumers are deluged with weekly circulars featuring sub $300 computers..how can Dell compete with this? The difficulty of showing the “coolness” of Dell’s new products on a web page..that led to a lot of discussion about a Dell retail presence. The company promised 40 new retail outlets in the US before Thanksgiving and a start in Canada next year..it isn’t clear yet if it will be kiosques or stores or even a mix. Everyone agreed it was a good move.
When we moved on to the discussion of the environment and sustainability everyone was surprised at how green Dell was. From the efforts to minimize its carbon footprint to free recycling of customers’ computers Dell has an impressive record. I was impressed with the new bamboo and mushroom packaging.
Dell showed off some of its newest products..at least the portable ones 🙂 I was impressed with the new Latitude ST Tablet with Windows 7 aimed at Business, Healthcare and Education applications.
We also got a look at some really thin notebooks, the XPS 15z that I reviewed recently and the über cool XPS 14z that manages to pack a 14″ screen into a 13″ form factor and full featured but only 0.9”/23mm thick. I love small powerful laptops.
We all worked very hard and it turned out to be a productive day. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of our suggestions to be implemented in the future..the dell folks at the table did a lot of note-taking.