Monday, November 18, 2002

PCWorld - You Call This Service?

Big survey and article on computer reliability and service. Apple is best, IBM is other overall Good company, Dell is slipping. Notebooks are now slightly more reliable due to fewer parts to go wrong.

Nearly every vendor we spoke to has shifted its support emphasis from short hold times to resolving problems on the first call. Companies have discovered that it costs more to field follow-up calls from customers than it does to take the time to solve their problems on the first try. Technicians like the change because they are not under as much pressure to push people off the phone. Getting problems solved on the first call also means fewer hassles for PC users. But callers may wait on hold a few more minutes before they get through.

The technicians we spoke to blamed some of today's PC problems on Windows Me, which has developed a reputation for being an unstable operating system. Techs recommend Windows XP for helping stabilize and troubleshoot complex PCs. "XP has great tools for fixing problems," says Valerie.

In April 2001, Dell opened a call center in Bangalore, India, to field the volume of calls. Depending on the number of calls coming in and the availability of technicians, calls may be routed from North America to one of several distant facilities, including the Bangalore center. Though some survey respondents complained about difficulty comprehending technicians with strong accents, Dell says the level of technical expertise is outstanding.

Giga Information Group's Enderle understands the move. "You can probably find better English speakers in India who are more competent with computers," he says. "If Dell makes a move like this, other companies will consider doing it."

Not a single PC company earned an Outstanding score in this year's survey.

53% of PCs had at least one problem needing repair. PCs get about 1 problem per year of age.

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