Executive Q&A: When Customers Speak, Dell Listens

Customer Experience
Customer Experience
Bobbi Dangerfield, Dell's vice president for commercial sales operations, shares insights about how the technology company is carefully listening to customers and then striving to delight them through preventative care.

Customers expect a great experience from the brands they do business with. Companies that fulfill those expectations by understanding customers' needs, anticipating their actions, and giving them the help they require create loyal devotees.

Dell understands this formula and is leveraging technology to listen to customers, understand their needs, and then provide them with the preventative care they require for their computers. As Bobbi Dangerfield, the company's vice president for commercial sales operations, explains to 1to1 Media, the recently launched Dell Tech Concierge is intended to continue delighting customers-both consumers and organizations-through preventative care for their computers.

Dangerfield also shares insights into Dell's social media monitoring, and how the organization is leveraging new technologies to be more customer focused.

1to1 Media: What makes Dell a customer-centric company? Can you share some of the most recent customer-focused initiatives launched by the organization?

Bobbi Dangerfield: At Dell our mission has always been to help customers do and achieve more no matter what their passions are, whether at work or at play. We are committed to giving our customers a stellar support experience every step of the way no matter where that journey begins. Social media has opened the doors for us in terms of being able to hone in on and listen to the 25,000 conversations occurring about Dell every day.

But it is just one tool. In April we announced new offerings to delight consumers and organizations alike. Dell Tech Concierge makes Dell the only PC company to provide personalized, ongoing preventative care for any Windows PC and connected device in the home. With ProSupport Plus Dell reduces downtime for critical systems with proactive monitoring and direct access to a team of Dell support engineers with detailed expertise in all of Dell's enterprise products and associated hypervisor and operating systems-resulting in fast, expert resolution of issues when they arise.

1to1: What prompted you to launch Dell Tech Concierge?

BD: We understand our customers count on our technology to help them stay connected whether they use them for work, school, family planning, or play-and in some instances, all of the above. Dell Tech Concierge helps customers get more out of their technology experience with 24/7 access to PC and consumer electronics experts, who can help customize a customer's digital life, set up proactive PC maintenance, activate PC monitoring, and protect data, helping to ensure that their PCs run at peak performance. Dell Tech Conciergeis an annual subscription-based phone and chat service that offers a premium level of continuous and personalized technology care for any Windows PC and connected devices-essentially anything in the home with an IP address that "talks" to a PC.

1to1: Did your customers indicate that they wanted a concierge system? If so, what other initiatives resulted from voice-of-the-customer insights?

BD: In connecting with our customers they let us know loud and clear that in this highly connected world, a quality PC is only one piece of the puzzle-how it easily connects with their connected devices and fits into their digital lives is just as critical to their technology experience.

Through IdeaStorm, we're giving a direct voice to our customers. Our goal is to hear what new products or services our customers would like to see Dell develop. Customers provide their ideas and suggestions and the rest of the community votes those ideas up or down. Amongst one of the most recent of the 520 ideas we've implemented since we introduced the site in 2007 is offering a Full HD display on our XPS 13. In 2006, we began asking customers to rate and review products. Each and every review is read by product engineering teams at Dell, and today there are more than 224,000 customer ratings and reviews in English.

1to1: How are you leveraging mobile and social media to communicate with your customers?

BD: Dell's listening and analysis of social data in real time across platforms delivers actionable insights that create value and improve the customer experience. Listening to the thousands of conversations everyday about Dell is crucial to putting customer centricity at the forefront of our efforts. After all, social engagement removes barriers and allows us to have stronger direct customer relationships. In our early years of social media activities, engagement led to an almost immediate 30 percent decline in negative commentary in just a few short months. Today, Dell's Social Outreach Services division addresses 3,000 customer posts per week in 11 languages with a 98 percent resolution rate. And, we work across platforms worldwide to engage our customers-from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to Direct2Dell, one of the first corporate blogs and IdeaStorm, which received more than 18,000 ideas and we implemented more than520 of them.

1to1: As a technology company, how are you leveraging new technologies that allow you to be more customer focused and improve the customer experience?
We use natural language processing software and modeling analytics to make sense of this tremendous amount of data we receive, making it both measurable and meaningful across our business. Dell's Social Media Listening Command Center (SMLCC ) utilizes more than 300 different search profiles to aggregate information by product line, customer segments, and various business functions. On a daily basis, the SMLCC utilizes Radian6 technology to assess and report on the top-moving topics in social media related to Dell-both positive and negative sentiment. This technology identifies where the specific topic conversations are occurring on the social Web, enabling Dell to respond quickly and, if needed, solve any issues.

Dell also uses advanced proprietary metrics called 'Social Net Advocacy' (SNA), an internal social media benchmarking system that measures the "Net" Advocacy of the Dell brand, based on the sentiment and the context of each social conversation. In fact, Dell recently won a Clarabridge People's Choice Award for excellence in Customer Experience Management (CEM), recognizing our proprietary patent-pending Social Net Advocacy (SNA) metric and its associated tool, Social Net Advocacy Pulse (SNAP), used for measurement and tracking. The award is testament to the fact we're making intelligent decisions to improve the overall customer experience based on the analysis of real-time data insights we receive.

1to1: How are you using data to better understand what your customers want?

BD: I'll admit that when it comes to listening and understanding our customers, we have a lot of data to contend with. Data analytics helps point us in the right direction and, coupled with the right combination of process, collaboration, and focus on customers-we drive improvement.

Our search criteria tells us a lot about the conversations taking place such as geography, basic demographics, reach, sentiment, subject matter of the discussions, which sites they are taking place on, and more. This data collection and analytics enables us to surface quality issues more quickly and identify customer support needs as they happen, surface opportunities to share Dell IT solutions with customers looking at various technology options and then associating and understanding the root causes and issues that are generating positive and negative sentiment.

1to1: You're in charge of enabling sales productivity, business growth, and customer experience while driving operational excellence and flawless execution. What's the biggest challenge in doing so that you predict for the coming year?

BD: There are many challenges when it comes to keeping up and most importantly, making sense of all that data we receive-this will only multiply exponentially over the coming years, introducing a lot of complexity. With that said, I believe we are an agile business and I have been able to work with our teams to ensure we have the right tools and processes in place to manage this complexity. More importantly, we are meeting and connecting with our customers on their terms.