Michael Dell Doesn’t Care About Customers!

Posted on 05. May, 2010 by in Customer Relationships

The Soul of an Organization

I believe the “heart and soul” of an organization is defined by the CEO’s personal core values – especially companies created by a visionary individual.  The ethics and behaviors that the CEO embraces permeate an organization through both formal procedures and indirectly through the culture.  If you accept this premise, then it would seem the Dell Computer organization is impaired.  You see, Michael Dell appears not to care about his customers!  I recently had a substantial problem with a Dell computer and tried over and over again to reach Mr. Dell’s office for help.  Disappointingly, all of my registered letters and emails were routed overseas to offshore Help Centers instead of being attended to by Mr. Dell’s staff.

Over my years in customer loyalty and service, I’ve urged colleagues and have recommended to audiences that if a company’s product or service doesn’t perform as expected (or advertised) and if immediate remedy isn’t found through the normal customer service channels, to then go to the top!  Explain your problem to the CEO’s office, I’ve advised.  If he or she really cares about customers, they’ll have a process in place to respond quickly and efficiently to those customers sincere enough to reach out to them.

What If You Have a Problem with a Dell Computer?

Having personally experienced a terrible problem with a very expensive Dell computer, I took my own advice.  I wrote a USPS letter and an email to Mr. Michael Dell, Round Rock, TX.  I didn’t have to wait long for a response, but the response I received was disappointing.  A Dell representative called me from India.  Now I can understand that Mr. Dell may not be able (or willing) to personally answer all of his letters and communications.  But, in my vision an American corporate CEO would have a few assistants tasked with answering his/her personal correspondence.  In my view these individuals would work somewhere near Mr. Dell’s executive suite.  The fact that letters to Mr. Dell (it’s now happened three times to three different sets of letters) are routed routinely to India suggests to me that Mr. Dell just doesn’t care about his customers!  Not only is he disappointing customers who attempt to reach him, he’s also losing the valuable insights into his business that he might have gained had he more personally attended to his mail.  Another consequence is the message his current handling of his correspondence sends to his customers; “I care so little about you, I’m sending your letter offshore!”  (Could “out of sight, out of mind” be motivating this policy?)

A Two-Way Loss

So the customer loses…his or her issue isn’t solved, and he or she is given the message that the Company doesn’t care.  But who else loses?  Some might take a pragmatic view to this situation and say it’s impractical to think of CEOs handling their correspondence in a personal way.  I say it’s nothing but good business.  And, I’ve received many a letter from other companies’ Chief Executives who I’ve written to.  Their responses reinforce my vision and tell me that some CEOs really do care!  But for those CEOs (apparently like Mr. Dell) who disregard their customers, consider the message their own behavior sends throughout  their organization to all of their employees.  If the CEO doesn’t live and breathe for customers, then why should anyone else worry about them?

The True Value of Customers

L Bean’s Credo is a great, contrasting model of respect for customers: “A customer is the most important person (we serve).  A customer is not dependent on us, we are dependent on him.  (He does us a favor by) giving us the opportunity to (serve him).”  Too bad Michael Dell doesn’t share Leon Gorman’s respect for the people who keep him in business – his customers.

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One Response to “Michael Dell Doesn’t Care About Customers!”

  1. richardatdell

    10. May, 2010

    Hi Terry
    We read your blog post with some interest and appreciate your time and effort to make your views known. In fact, we recognize there is constantly room for improvement. We always strive to do better. Clearly, based on your commentary, we let you down and I am sorry to hear that.

    As someone who works at Dell and has had many opportunities to chat and meet with our CEO, Michael Dell, there is nothing further from the truth than your headline. Michael founded this company on direct relationships with customers, meets with customers wherever he goes, and the Dell team does, in fact,

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