Search this site:


December 29, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: Dell pre-formatted customer service emails

SelecttemplateEric Hosmer writes:

If you have gotten the standard email from a Dell Service Tech, you probably have noticed how it is clearly based on a template. This makes sense, since it simplifies things for the technician.

However, in my most recent call to Dell I got a second message from the same address saying only, "Please select a template."

It seems somebody forgot to select the correct template for my email before sending it to me!




Posted by: Cimddwc at December 29, 2006 04:10 AM


Posted by: krizpiyo at December 29, 2006 08:51 AM

Ah, how I (don't) fondly remember my days in tech support! This is what happens when bean counters run customer service and focus on "performance stats" instead of the customer experience.

The typical phone equivalent is the agent who is evaluated not on the quality of his service or actual resolutions but rather on speed of answer, call handle time, time on hold and the like. A typical call consists of a perfunctory (and usually wrong) identification of the possible problem and one quick, easy (and usually wrong) step to "fix" it, with the advice to call back if the problem isn't fixed. "Uninstall, reboot, reinstall, reboot, and call us back if that doesn't work." Of course it doesn't work because if they actually spent the time on the call they'd discover it is a hardware problem, but they're not evaluated on that so they have no motivation to actually identify and solve the problem. However, they'll probably get a productivity award for having the lowest handle time, while a true techie helping the customers is counseled to improve his call stats.

This e-mail is simply the latest symptom of this trend in so-called "customer service." The agent just got a resolution stat, and didn't do anything but click a 'send' button.

Bonus: The last 2 times I've attempted to use the customer service chat and the last 3 times I've used the customer service "contact us" form for my ISP I've been told "Please contact us at (insert toll-free number here) for help with your problem." So why have chat or e-mail support if all they do is tell you to call the number you're trying desperately to avoid...because they'll tell you just to (you guessed it) "reboot and call us back."

Posted by: Erich at December 29, 2006 01:17 PM

I searched "Dell" on the site search and got 39 results, but I think a few were "Next/Previous: Dell...", one was an ad, and 3 were omitted. I would guess there are around 20 TIB entries about Dell.

Posted by: wafflecannon at December 30, 2006 08:42 PM

I can understand the use of email templates. Nothing's more annoying than repeatedly writing "yes, you need to download the new patch", "oh, that's fixed in the latest patch", "that's a common problem, you need to download the latest patch", "try installing the new patch" over and over again. But templates should only be used when a tech is sure that one will solve the problem. If someone says their software will not work, don't send them an email saying "install updates, restart computer".

Of course, sending the customer nothing at all isn't good either.

Companies need to start making more use of customer feedback and use that to rate techs instead of call/email "resolution" rate. At the end of a call, for example, it should say "press 1 if the tech you just spoke to was helpful, press 2 if he was not" and only give the tech a resolution stat if the customer presses 1.

Yes, some customers would ignore the message and not press any button, but these would affect all techs in the same way, so the stats would still be valid.

There is really no reason why a company wouldn't want to do this. More customers satisfaction, not more calls-per-day, is what translates into more money.

Posted by: TIBE4ME at January 1, 2007 12:40 AM

Interesting. There is nothing wrong with using a templated reply system. In fact, it can provide better customer service as template answers can go into greater detail than if somebody were to try to hand-type things. But the system in use shouldn't allow a blank email to be sent out, or one with a message asking for a template selection.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at January 4, 2007 02:07 PM

Comments on this entry are closed

Previous Posts: