Dell Sends PC Support to the States

Dell last week said it has stopped routing most of the technical support calls from U.S.-based users of its corporate PCs to a facility in India, after some customers complained about the quality of the help they received.

Support operations related to Dell's Optiplex line of desktop PCs and its Latitude notebooks are being moved back to facilities in Texas, Idaho, and Tennessee, said company spokesperson Jon Weisblatt.

"Corporate customers were telling us they didn't like the level of support they were getting, and in the normal course of business, we made some adjustments," Weisblatt said.

Favorable Opinion

Ned May, an analyst at market research firm IDC, said he had also heard criticisms from corporate IT managers about the support they were getting from Dell's call center in Bangalore, India. May called the shift of support back to the U.S. "an aggressive move" that should earn Dell some goodwill from users.

Dell's support flip-flop is also a victory for U.S.-based IT workers, said Marcus Courtney, president of the Seattle-based Washington Alliance of Technology Workers. The problems encountered by Dell should show other technology vendors that sometimes "cheaper is not better," Courtney added.

But it may be a short-lived victory. Barry French, another Dell spokesperson, said a portion of the calls from U.S. PC users will still go to India, where support has been handled since mid-2001. He also indicated that Dell may shift all of the support back offshore at some point.

"We are increasing the number of people we have providing support in India," he said. "Dell has a number of call centers around the world, and we will continue to optimize those to provide the best customer experience."

Inevitable Trend?

IDC's May said he sees offshore sourcing, in which IT jobs such as technical support are moved from the U.S. to less expensive countries, as an inevitable trend. "The economics are too compelling," he said.

Dell's decision on PC support was disclosed less than a week after Michael Dell, its chairman and chief executive officer, ballyhooed the establishment of a "state-of-the-art" Enterprise Command Center support facility in Round Rock, Texas, during a November 18 press conference at Comdex Fall 2003.

The new facility will provide support to users of Dell's corporate servers and storage devices. Gary Cotshott, vice president and general manager of Dell's services unit, said the company set up the center because the expectations of users "continue to go up as we penetrate the enterprise market."

This story, "Dell Sends PC Support to the States" was originally published by Computerworld.

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