Extreme makeover: Dell revamps support services

As Dell continues to battle shrinking growth in PC and server sales, the PC giant is revamping its support offering.

As Dell continues to battle shrinking growth in PC and server sales, the PC giant is revamping its support offering.

The overhaul will see the introduction of two services, Dell's ProSupport for IT and ProSupport for End Users, aimed at improving local support for enterprise customers by improving turnaround times and offering the ability to fast-track requests.

Now, in order to satisfy tender conditions that require local support, Dell will be bolstering its Australian contact centres. Australian and New Zealand enterprise customers calling ProSupport will be serviced by Dell's Sydney-based staff between 7am and 7pm EST, while after-hours calls will be answered by its Malaysian offices, opened last year, in conjunction with a local account manager.

ProSupport for IT will be able to fast track support requests. Instead of having to pick their way through Dell's support escalation process, IT staff at customer sites directly access the relevant support staff while non-IT end users will be able to access application and configuration assistance for their machines.

Dell would not clarify the number of staff it has employed for the revamped service. Brian Goff, Dell Australia's enterprise technical manager, only said there are "more staff than last year", citing the company's upcoming profit reporting on 28 February for holding back the details.

The company is currently recruiting technical staff to fill vacant roles.

For customers already on Dell's Gold Tech Support package, the extra benefits under ProSupport will be offered at no extra charge, according to Goff.

The new service offering comes at a time when Dell is fighting to retain its market share of PC and server sales worldwide. Some analysts suggest the new support offering may help Dell combat falling sales in what is increasingly becoming a commoditised market.

"Services is a big part of IT. Hardware is increasingly underappreciated so it comes down to other factors like price or services," IBRS analyst Kevin McIsaac told ZDNet.com.au..

The company is also attempting to redefine itself. It recently acquired hosted e-mail archiving and security company MessageOne for US$155 million, but the most significant move was its US$1.4 billion acquisition of EqualLogic, a player in the nascent iSCSI storage market -- repositioning the vendor as an owner of storage IP for the first time, rather than simply a reseller.