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27 July 2009

It Must Be People AND Process

I purchased a Dell Studio 15 laptop ( for my wife back in January. But over time it began to slow down and have issues that no 4 month old computer should have. Outlook wasn't happy, the fan ran constantly, IE8 would take WAY too long to load average web sites, etc.

So last week I began the troubleshooting process.

I started at home by re-installing Windows Vista 64bit OS with no success. Still slow.

I then worked with our IT guys here at Granger to install the free version of Windows 7 to see if that helped. However, it did not. Because of this the IT guys suggested I call Dell as it was most likely a hardware issue.

And so began my 3-day ordeal with Dell.

  1. I talked with laptop support who ran an hour long test. Test failed because I had deleted a "diagnostic partition" when re-installing the OS.
  2. When they learned this was an issue they transferred me to the software department. The software department ran me through a number of procedures like starting in safe mode and reverting all settings to default. Still no joy. So they transferred me back to the hardware department.
  3. I was accidentally transferred to desktop hardware support and spent 20 minutes describing the problem to the wrong person who then transferred me to laptop hardware support.
  4. Now I've come full circle and I'm worried that they will recognize me and send me back to software support. But this time it is something else. Since I installed Windows 7 they cannot help me. I need to put Vista 64 bit back on the machine before they can help me further.
  5. I spend the rest of the day loading Vista 64 bit back on the computer.
  6. This morning I call back laptop hardware support and say, "I'm good to go - have Vista 64 bit installed."
  7. They walk me through a battery of tests and hardware checks (including taking the back off the laptop and removing and replacing memory cards in random variations.)
  8. Interesting side note - the machine ran faster with one memory card (2GB) than with both installed (4GB)...
  9. We then upgraded the BIOS to the most recent version. Still no changes in speed.
So we've now put over three days and countless hours into the machine and the final result:

Dell has decided to send someone to my house to replace the mother board, both memory cards and the hard drive...

Wow! What a process.

In Summary
I didn't have one person treat me poorly. They were all professional, took their time and went by the book to fix the problem. They called me "Sir" and said "please" and "thank you" a lot. They apologized for the time I was putting in and always asked if there was anything else they could do for me.

So why did I feel so drained? Because it was the Process that was faulty...not the People.

How often do we put on a big smile and be as nice as possible but never attempt to make the process more enjoyable for people?

Are we providing technical support for a website that drains the life out of people? If so, we need to make some changes quickly.

Maybe we should make this our goal:
Design a web experience that will ensure people are happy with the process. Then when they encounter the people they will be wowed and not just satisfied with the outcome.