Supporting Dell Customers in the Recent Snowstorms in China

Earlier this week, Ernest Lee, technical support director in Dell China published a blog post where he described how Dell supported customers through the recent severe snowstorms that happened in China. Since it seemed like a good real-life example of the kind of service capabilities we offer through ProSupport and through our network of Global Command Centers, I decided to include it here.  The text that follows is the English translation of Ernest's post.

Right before the Chinese New Year – Rat Year – when all the Chinese were welcoming the traditional festival, most areas in southern China were abruptly and unexpectedly suffering one of the most severe snowstorms on record.  This winter became the coldest winter over the past 50 years, and in some areas it was the coldest ever.  The reality of the situation was railway stations shut down, flights canceled, highways blocked, electrical lines collapsed, water supply pipes broken, houses buried or destroyed, crops frozen, and human lives tragically lost.  Every day, all day, domestic and international media reported the unprecedented events on television, radio, and Internet.  The severity of this disaster was hard to imagine as it went on for days and weeks.  Feelings of worry, impatience, and hope permeated the southern Chinese region. 

Also confronted with an unprecedented challenge, Dell faced the daunting task of logistically providing replacement systems, parts, and onsite technicians to customers in these storm-struck areas. How would Dell Services work to provide this mission critical support to their loyal customers in the face of this grim and callous snow disaster? Could Dell Services undertake this challenge and overcome the difficulties they faced in order to provide Dell's award winning customer service commitment?

Dell's Global Command Center in Xiamen, was at the heart of providing 24×7, mission critical support as it quickly evolved into Dell's emergency crisis management center.  Equipped with state of the art technology and patent-pending tools, Dell was able to track and monitor service events in these devastated areas.  In order to minimize customer downtime and achieve industry-leading service level commitment, Dell's Global Command Center coordinated high level escalation paths and prioritized customers based on business impacting severity level.

As the storm approached, Dell's management team orchestrated meetings with technical support teams, services operations, logistics, and Dell's onsite service providers to formulate solutions.  These solutions involved the establishment of escalation channels, real time monitoring of critical inventory levels and labor status in the impacted areas, congregating emergency resolution, and publishing, reporting and updating a daily service report.  For the few temporarily unresolved service orders, an intensive tracking process was implemented to check the real time status of weather forecasts, highways, railways, and flights, while proactively communicating with customers to keep them informed of their support status.  Those customers that needed and expected urgent support were prioritized based on their business impact.

Dell's Logistics team worked around-the-clock to ensure maximum stocking of mission critical parts in priority warehouses.  As transportation routes reopened, Dell was quick to restock and compliment the parts and system inventory in highly impacted areas.  Hub team invoked an inventory sharing system between regular hubs and same day mission critical hubs.  This solution optimally reduced service delays due to parts shortages. In order to effectively and efficiently arrange onsite technicians and engineers, Dell's service operations team methodically staffed for peak service orders to prevent onsite resource shortages.

Dell onsite technicians and engineers displayed bravery, valor and commitment as they selflessly endured treacherous driving conditions to reach impacted customers.  No matter how extreme the conditions, these front line engineers would find their way to Dell's customer sites.  In the city of Nanjing, Dell engineers hand-carried parts through meters of snow drifts to customer sites, despite a public transportation shutdown.  A typical 2-hour drive would take over a half day to navigate, yet no challenge was turned away.  Dell engineers waited patiently that night at the pass for the Nanjing Changjiang River Bridge to open.  Just after midnight when the bridge reopened, cars crept slowly over the frozen road and at times were carefully pushed across the bridge.  Arriving in Wuhu at 2 am in the early morning, the first service calls were completed.  However that was just the beginning, as the engineers soon departed to reach the next cities of Nanling, Ma'anshan, and so on.  So many heroic stories were witnessed by loyal customers and later told in the hallways of Dell China.  These engineers brought pride to the Dell brand and reinforced Dell's execution without excuses in the face of adversity and sacrifice.

Thankfully, the severe snowstorms weakened at the onset of the Chinese New Year- the seven golden holidays.  Meanwhile, Dell China Global Command Center remained open as mission critical service events continued to be updated and monitored to ensure minimal delays during the holidays.  Expecting higher dispatch and call volumes after the Chinese New Year, Dell's teams were committed to quickly responding and resolving issues, on time, the first time.  Regardless of the type of crisis event, Dell's ProSupport and the Global Command Center come through when customers expect it most.

About the Author: Lionel Menchaca