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Sun 6 May 2007 04:00 AM

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Service with a smile

Dell wants to enhance the quality of its customer care, particularly under its Dell 2.0 initiative. As the computer firm launches a new range of services in the Middle East, Duncan MacRae finds out if it is as good as its word.

|~|Michael-Collins,-general-ma.gif|~|Collins: The services bring worldwide expertise, standardisation and efficiency to the Middle East. |~|Dell wants to enhance the quality of its customer care, particularly under its Dell 2.0 initiative. As the computer firm launches a new range of services in the Middle East, Duncan MacRae finds out if it is as good as its word.

The Middle East is to get a US$5 million part of the $200 million spend Dell is making globally on reinventing itself as Dell 2.0 – a customer service programme evangalised last year by the now deposed CEO, Kevin Rollins.

Although Dell 2.0 has been going for over six months, Dell’s once dominant market shares continue to slip worldwide, according to recent Gartner market research. But in the Middle East the company is determined to halt the rot. The computer giant’s launch of new services seems to answer any question marks over its commitment to customer care in the region.

The array of new initiatives is in line with Dell’s global focus on customer satisfaction, which it has admitted had not been done perfectly in the past. Its local moves, squarely aimed at business customers and consumers in the region, go some way to delivering on the company’s promise to enhance services and have a greater reach into emerging markets.

The firm is now investing a reported $5 million in a regional support centre in Jebel Ali, Dubai and does clearly mean to enhance business here.

“We are confident that our Middle East customers will be delighted with our new services,” says Michael Collins, general manager for Dell Middle East.

“Our partners bring Dell’s worldwide expertise, standardisation and efficiency to the Middle East. They have also been part of the planning and are excited by the new opportunities and improved service levels that we as a team will be able to deliver.”

The investment will see Dell enhance spares availability by managing the spare parts and logistics via a new central regional distribution hub in Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates. Linked to the Dell logistical support network in Europe, it will support base warranty requirements for commercial and consumer products and is key to the launch of the Dell branded services.

Nicky Hartery, VP manufacturing and business operations, says the investment in the centre is part of a wider spend that Dell has committed to globally as part of Dell 2.0.
“Dell 2.0 is very much billed around improving the customer experience,” Hartery says.

“We have been working very diligently on that over the past year and have significantly improved the customer experience and response to customers in EMEA and globally.

“It is also about rolling out the key programmes that have executed really well for Dell over the years to all regions,” he adds.

The Jebel Ali facility will be linked to Dell’s logistical support network in Europe and will support smaller in-country centres in Riyadh, Jeddah, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Turkey.

Dell will use the logistics and spare parts facility to offer a range of premium services to customers, Hartery says, adding that the aim is to provide “services that are equal to our customers in Europe”.

While Dell will continue to work closely with partners Emirates Computers and Key Information Technology in providing services, the firm will now be able to engage more directly with large business customers in the region.

The facility will also be linked to Dell’s wider network of enterprise support centres, located globally. Its enterprise command centres are based in the United States, China, Ireland, Japan and Malaysia, and support customers with high-performance teams who continuously monitor and coordinate support operations utilising automated delivery tools and dispatching from more than 450 parts depot centres.

Dell customers will be able to select from a range of service levels, with Platinum Plus customers being offered escalation management and a proactive approach that helps to eliminate problems before they arise. This method offers a fast and accurate problem resolution from Dell’s industry-certified specialist network.

Platinum Plus customers also benefit from having a designated technical account manager, meaning they have a single point of contact for seamless execution and flexible access to a suite of support options that match their uptime needs. Onsite rapid response is also part of this premium package.

“Our partners have provided this service in the past - what we need to do is invest jointly with our partners to provide this service,” Hartery says.

“The enterprise command centre, the fast responses capability to solve customer issues, all of that we developed in the past one to two years, so now that is settled we can take it to a region like the Middle East and be very confident of its capabilities and of its execution,” he states.

The introduction of Dell’s next generation of enterprise services offer a suite of logistical infrastructure support and maintenance services that are aligned with expanding customers’ needs in their business critical environments. These services enable the sustaining of high performance operations through certified, experienced support technicians.

The new Dell services are built around the enterprise command centres (ECC), service innovation lab, services specialist network and Dell’s worldwide service engagement methodology. With these proven and effective components, Dell brings global operational excellence to each of its support service levels in the UAE.

For its Platinum Plus and Gold service clients, Dell provides a four-hour onsite rapid response time, plus fast resolution for software troubleshooting and proactive hardware support.

Dell offers comprehensive free online support through which most support questions can be answered. However, if the problem cannot be resolved, customers can contact Dell’s technical support for assistance.

Dell is using regional and global partners to deliver the programme, making it tried and tested.

“This is not something that we’re going to learn as we go along – many computer companies launch such service programmes and learn as they go along,” he says. “We should not be learning in the Middle East.”

The extra capability will allow Dell to ramp up its business in the region, Hartery says, although he stressed that Dell has been outperforming the regional market for growth anyway.
The centre, however, will give Dell “significant energy”, Hartery claims. ||**||

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