Dell Wants One-on-Ones with Customers

The Round Rock, Texas, PC maker has switched off its customer care bulletin board in favor of online chat and other more direct means for updating order information. (

Dell Inc. has shuttered the customer order support portion of its Web bulletin board system, in part to help protect its clients privacy.

The Round Rock, Texas, PC maker on Friday removed its customer care board, which was often used by Dell clients to help track orders or solve shipment problems, from its Dell Community Forum, a Web site that hosts numerous bulletin boards where customers can find technical information on Dell products as well as exchange ideas with others who own Dell gear.

Its now pointing customers, mainly consumers and some small businesses, who used the board mainly to check on their orders, toward online chat and other more direct means of staying up-to-date.

Closing the order support board drew the ire of some forum members. But a Dell spokesperson said that although Dell did not receive any complaints about it, the way in which customers posted detailed order information on the public form might help divulge their private, personal information.

The forum also required a higher than usual amount of moderator assistance in tracking down orders, and thus it did not meet the spirit of the peer-to-peer information sharing process of a typical online bulletin board, said Jennifer Davis, a Dell spokesperson in Round Rock, Texas.

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Still, several forum members questioned Dells motives in taking down the customer service forum as, aside from assisting customers, the board also became a repository for complaints.

"As a new customer, I have found the customer service boards on the forum very helpful. I am stunned that you would summarily remove all of the boards, although after reading some of the postings, perhaps Dell just doesnt want information shared about customer experiences," a person using the handle Cindy22000, wrote on Dells Community Forum Improvement bulletin board. "I am becoming less enthralled with Dell by the minute, and this isnt helping."

Davis said Dell did not remove the board due to negative comments posted there, as they can be found throughout the Community Forum.

"We want customers to still provide feedback," she said. "The only way we can improve is when we hear from our customers, good or bad."

Dell is using feedback provided by some of its most frequent posters to make improvements to the site, she said.

However, other form members predicted Dells other online forums, which include a pre-sales forum for general, non-technical questions, might become clogged with customer complaints or queries.

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