Posted June 15, 2011 7:00 am by with 1 comment

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Dell became infamous in reputation management circles several years ago with their Dell Hell customer service reputation being cemented. The company has worked hard to move away from the moniker but if recent data from online customer service rating company STELLAService is any indication it may be time to say “It’s baaaaaaack!”.

The company examined the Top 100 Internet Retailers from the Internet Retailer 500 list. They examined how long wait times were for service by the phone. They also looked at how long the response time was via e-mail for these companies.

The chart below shows the top performers with the average response time for e-mail requests in an hr:min:sec format. Office Depot takes the top spot for fastest responder.


Now the reason for the post title


Although Dell is the #4 online retailer on the overall list it ranks near the bottom of the list with regard to average e-mail response time of over 65 hours! That’s not a typo.

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With this news it looks like Dell might very well be in the position of experiencing one of the worst reputation management issues possible: the resurrection of a past disaster.

We all know that people have short memories. With the aid of the Internet, however, consumers can be reminded forever about what used to be. Dell has been the poster child for the horrors of bad customer service and the accompanying brand damage that it can carry but if this report is any indication, whatever they have done to right the customer service ship has strayed off course. As a result, the Dell Hell moniker gets new life.

So are earned reputations that have been ‘laid to rest’ ever truly resting in peace? Apparently not. We have so little history for the reputation boomerang effect. One would suspect that Dell is not anxious to be the poster child for this reputation landmine as well but maybe it’s already too late.

  • Judith Kallos

    Frank, the data you show reflects my experiences as well. Revisited and even worse!

    Having various Dells over the past 15 years the service experience on my most recent purchase from 9/2010 nose-dived. In addition to that, the delayed templated generic e-mail responses that do not address your specific issues cause additional back-n-forths — compounding this wait time (which if you need tech support can be excruciating).

    So you pick up the phone to get your answers and end up getting salt rubbed in the wound –“tech support” people who knew less than I do and I’m not even an IT person!

    For awhile there I couldn’t say enough good things about their service — not so much anymore. What a shame…

    Thanks for the article, maybe they’ll go back to their old “good” ways…. One can hope, right?