Dell Forms Customer Advisory Panel

Recently, I wrote a Fast Company blog post titled Dell used to be a fast company .  Dell found it immediately and tried to reassure me.  I must have said something worthwhile as it has led to action on their part.

Dell has formed a Customer Advisory Panel (CAP) to try to learn from their customers.  I have been invited to participate as a member of this panel. The invitation extended offers the following information:

I know you were recently having issues with our leasing program and have some friends and family who have had some less than satisfactory experiences with Dell, too. Per my note on Twitter, we are forming a group called CAP (Customer Advisory Panel) and are hosting an event here in Austin at our headquarters on June 15th called CAP Days. We’d like to bring you in to hear more about your experience with Dell to-date, hear your personal thoughts on the brand, get your feedback on some of our new products and hear about some changes we have planned for the company moving forward.

In the interests of full disclosure, Dell is paying for my travel and accommodation to travel to Austin next week. While I’m not looking forward to the heat of Texas, I am looking forward to contributing and hearing what they have to say.

As many of my followers here know, one of my primary interests is helping companies improve business execution. Dell surveyed me and others last evening in preparation for this event (good job!), and, while I’m sure they are more interested in impressing me with their technology, I want to know what they are doing to eliminate the business execution issues that frustrate their customers. 

It is my fervent belief that if you fail to create a wonderful experience for customers, the next time a customer has the opportunity of working with you, the customer’s entire experience determines whether or not they "come back for more."  [Note: A fantastic book on this subject is The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore.]

If there are things you want Dell to know about your experiences, positive or negative, I hope you will add your comments here. Dell will be watching and so will I.

I’ll provide additional blog posts about my experience with the Dell CAP.


Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker and blogger who resides in Silicon Valley. His firm helps clients eliminate business execution issues that threaten profitable and sustainable growth. He can be reached through his website at

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  • Troy B

    I used to work at Dell in Customer Support, Round Rock and found that there's somewhat of a can-do attitude there. Once I spent nearly four hours talking someone from Switzerland through a complete reinstall this was when VOIP was not so widespread, so must have cost a fortune.Since leaving Dell to go back to school at UTexas@Austin, I watched on the sidelines. I have to say, that Dell seems to be more of a marketing company than an innovator. They simple market the latest gadget and seem to do very little in the way of creative thinking to come up with new products. It's either work on the assembly line or work in customer support or sales, but where is the "think tank" laboratory. Actually this is the 2nd most important reason why I left. First, they work you hard but you get paid well. So, I welcomed their acquisition of Perot Systems. Once Dell really understands that service is where the money is, I have no doubt that they will rise again. The customer support was once great but they are having to cut corners because they need to innovate to get back where they were, #1.

  • JVanceMorton

    @Allen, ummm, uhhh, stammer...I just re-read my comment (probably something I should've done before hitting submit and AFTER I had my second cup of coffee this morning). Apologies for the "fellas" and "his" references in my comments to you, I've since been able to log on and fix my errors, but still... One of my best friends, and the subject of many of my tales, is an Allen and the xy chromosomed references were pure early-morning muscle memory. Please feel free to thump me so hard on the nose when we meet.

    @Jo-el thanks for bringing up your issue here. I hope you can believe that there are a lot of smart people who are working very hard to make sure that situations like the one your niece and her Dad faced are aberrations and not the rule. We do hear you and care. I'm confident that this subject will be discussed at CAP Days as our agenda is being driven by the participants. We (I work for Dell and have been part of the core team working on CAP Days) have no set presentations planned as this is purely about listening to and collaborating with those who are giving us their valuable time to come to Texas. Of course, we have general topics of discussion planned and execs/subject matter experts on those topics line-up to be a part of those sessions, but no formal PowerPoint-laden presentations.

    Regards, Vance Morton, one of the Dell CAP Heads.

  • Allen Mireles

    Oh Vance, no worries. *Chuckling*

    With a name like Allen Mireles, I have become accustomed to answering to almost anything...looking forward to meeting you tomorrow or Tuesday.


  • JVanceMorton

    @David and @Allen, OK, I can see that we have two very literate young people as part of our CAP Days on Tuesday, June 15. Good. Very good. It is also evident that we’ve have failed to meet your expectations at one time or another. Not so good. It’s never a good to hear/read of poor experiences with us. Here’s hoping that Allen’s comment about having her view of Dell turned back towards the path of brand evangelism becomes a reality. As excited (and maybe a bit anxious) as we are about hearing your (and those of your friends, family, and networks that you bring with) concerns, experiences and ideas in person, I’m even more bolstered by the seemingly open-minded attitudes that you and your fellow CAPtendees have about the event.
    So have a great weekend and we’ll see you in a few days. And David, yes, Texas is the summer can be hot, but hopefully the conversation and dialogue will be even more sizzling (plus, we do have the air-conditioning on in all the buildings ;-).

  • jo-el hibian

    Frustration and anger is recommending a Dell laptop for my niece in August last year, having her Dad pay for it online, then seeing in September, and October that it was backordered. No one at Dell let us know anything about the status or why..the Dad kept checking on line and seeing that it was not available through November. Both of us made calls and got people in India who didn't speak understandable English, who did not fully understand beyond their scripts, and who refused to escalate the issue to someone else. The Dell rep hung up on me when I asked politely for escalation..
    I finally called Dell sales group at Thanksgiving, was treated respectfully, and got the Sales person's full support to work out the issue. He spoke to my brother, the Dad, calmed his fears that the college bound niece would have a laptop for Christmas and helped my brother order another model that would be delivered in time. The glitch was that the sales person could not access the order system to cancel the original unavailable laptop. So the Dad ordered and paid for a second laptop which arrived 4 days before Christmas. The original laptop arrived in mid-January, and the Dad had to call support again, and again to get an RMA number to return the second computer. This is a man who works 60+ hours a week as a high school principal taking valuable time out to make all of the hours of phone calls, and pay for 2 computers to get one Christmas present directly from Dell for his daughter.
    We may not be technorati who get to talk to Dell directly, but this experience should be one of may stories of the horrors encountered when dealing with Dell's product support. Thank you for this forum and getting Dell CAP to be aware of what is broken. The thing to watch will be in the actions they take--listening is just the first step.

  • Allen Mireles

    I will also be going to Austin next week to take part in the Dell CAP event and must say I was pleased to read your post. I was beginning to think I was the only critical voice attending.

    I have been a Dell user for many years and considered myself a happy brand evangelist. I lived through the "Dell Hell" period and have fought many battles with Dell customer service over the years but was pleased to have several Dell reps in my Twitterstream. Having Dell Twittermates made it easy to get quick answers and allowed me to bypass the outsourced tech support, which was a better solution for me. I enjoyed connecting people with my Dell Twitermates and felt part of something that was representative of the best of social media.

    My problems began when my much loved Inspiron died mid-project, under deadline. Sam's Club was the only place in our area that I could purchase a Dell laptop and take it home the same day to get back to work. I bought an XPS because the Sam's guy said XPS users got special tech support help.

    May have been because they needed it. My experience with my XPS has been uniformly frustrating from the early days until about six weeks ago, when it became impossible to use any longer. I have owned this computer for less than two years and the experience has soured my previous high regard for the Dell brand. When one of my Dell Twittermates moved to another job and my one year warranty had expired, I was left without the warm and fuzzy social media customer support I had enjoyed. I tweeted on many different occasions about the problems I was experiencing but never received the same level of support I had enjoyed earlier.

    As I frantically searched for answers to the problems I was experiencing I came across others who were having the same trouble. I spoke with computer repair people who no longer recommend the brand because of these kind of experiences. One of my colleagues asked me to mention to Dell that he was having the same trouble with his touch pad that I had described and is unable to use his laptop for writing.

    I appreciate being invited to take part in the panel. I respect a brand that is willing to listen to consumer criticism and I look forward to sharing the frustration I have experienced. Perhaps what I learn in Austin next week will change my mind and turn me back into a Dell evangelist...I guess we will have to wait and see.