It's been quite a while since I've handed out one of my awards for business idiocy. Not only is this one well deserved, it's alliterative!
Michael Dell became a famous business case by understanding the commoditization of the PC, the decay of the retail channel, and building a competitive edge around a ruthlessly optimized supply chain and logistics system, and selling direct to the users. Still true. But the model requires customers, and unless Dell (the company) is deliberately abandoning the consumer market, some of them are going to be individuals, families, and small businesses without inhouse tech support to do things like diagnose or rebuild splattered hard drives, misconfigured drivers and the like, which seem to leave their final assembly point a little too often for comfort.
Bringing us to the proximate cause for this post, the travails of my blogdaddy, Jeff Jarvis, in getting Delll to live up to a service plan he bought on a recently purchased machine. Here's the whole saga, a true CRM nightmare of the blind leading the clueless through an twisty maze of canned scripts, all the way up to the senior spokesperson level.
That's bad enough. There's a bit of insanity somewhere in every large business, and these days you can't know (without having both a clue and a datamining operation) that the voice on the phone also commands a megaphone of its own. But Jeff's dual position in the old and new media worlds led to followup in both of those worlds, from the Houston Chron tracking a company flak's bafflegab rendition of "we ignore blogs", and the "Social Customer" blog discovering Dell is in the process of closing its customer support forums, apparently due to the 'non-technical issues' (take a guess) that are cropping up there. Rather than assuming every customer has a voice, let's just pretend none of them can speak.
For its ability to not only create a stinker of a problem, but to follow up with the corporate equivalent of sticking its hands over its ears and singing "La, la, la, la, I can't hear you...", this blog's Dubious Distinction award is hereby bestowed on Dell Computer.