The Telephone System… Getting It Right

I know that most of you won’t believe that we are serious about fixing customer issues until we are 100% done. That is totally fair! Some of you think it is self-serving to talk about what we are doing when it’s still a work-in-progress. That’s OK, too. Others want to know Dell’s stance regarding overseas call centers. That’s for an upcoming post. Ultimately, we must prove to you that we are committed to change. But a lot of you want us to keep the lines of communication open and talk about the efforts under way, so that’s what I plan to do—keep sharing details.

Resolving your problem is the most important thing we can do to give you a good experience with service. The first step in the resolution process is to get you to the right agent with the right skills and right tools. We need to do this the first time. Yep. In a company with ~30,000 service and sales agents in call centers this has some challenges (I can see the fingers pointing already… it’s just reality). It’s tough even for our own agents to know the right place to transfer you if they must.

So what are we doing to make sure you don’t feel like a mouse in a maze? We’re focusing our efforts on the phone routing systems used by US consumers. In late May, we made changes to our IVR (Interactive voice recognition) tool to enhance the usability by simplifying menus and improving the verbiage. In the menu selection process, we eliminated unnecessary prompts and have reduced the average time customers spend in the IVR by a full minute. We listened in to the process and learned that we often use Dell-speak rather than language that is more intuitive for youwe think PowerEdge, you think servers. We are tuning our speech recognition software so that it recognizes a broader range of words in order to route you more effectively. For example, our Inspiron and Latitude product lines can now be recognized as laptop, notebook, portable, etc…, this process never really ends and we will keep looking for new approaches.

We have also found that most customers didn’t realize the benefits of using their Express Service Code (ESC). This is a product identifier that provides you a more effective and efficient routing experience. We are being more proactive in communicating the ESC value and where to find it. Since then, we’ve seen a 20% increase in the use of ESC, which helps reduce call transfers. We are not finished; there is much more to come. We need to expand these improvements from the consumer to our corporate customers.

While we work on getting you to the right place the first time, we know there will always be times when a transfer is necessary and we need to make this easier for you, too. You get frustrated that you have to provide the same information multiple times. We have just implemented a new technology that will allow us to ask questions once and then pass this information on to the next agent. This tool also helps the agent determine where the call should go. We expect to roll this tool out to all our support agents later this fall. Soon, we will streamline the identification confirmation in the IVR and be able to pass this on to the agent that takes the call. We’ve worked closely with the legal team on this to ensure customer privacy is maintained throughout the process (no lawyer jokes, please).

We are continually researching the latest in technology to improve the routing experience in contacting Dell, and are excited about things to come. In fact, every week, the executive leadership team listens in on calls to make sure we are seeing benefits of the changes and that we are moving on to the next thing that needs fixing. There is more to do, but so far, these changes have resulted in about 15,000 fewer transfers per week compared to 3 months ago. We believe we are on the right path to getting you to the right person to resolve your issue the first time.

About the Author: WW Customer Experience