New PC hardware, like the new Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop that Dell announced at IFA, generate buzz but what keeps consumers happy and returning to a PC vendor? Ease of use, maintenance and support. One offering that typically separates a business PC from a commercial PC is the ability to purchase a robust support contract. However, the difference between business and consumer PC use has blurred. Competition has intensified, and PCs are becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate. Dell has decided to add up the ante in the consumer market with a new top-tier of support called Dell Premium Support Plus.
It offers 24×7 phone support, onsite service after remote diagnosis and hardware and software support. At the heart of the offering is Dell’s SupportAssist software technology with key service aspects that include:
- Automatic PC optimization. The software scans the hardware, cleans the files, gets drivers and downloads, and optimizes both network and device performance.
Predictive and proactive alerts. The system predicts and informs the user of potential failures to minimize downtime. It also proactively alerts the user of issues and can automatically alert Dell support as well, saving the consumer time.
- Automated virus and malware removal. With a wave of new security threats, consumers need an easy way to protect their PC. Dell’s support offering automatically scans the PC for viruses, quarantines the threat, alerts the user and removes it. It keeps a log in the SupportAssist history tab so the user can review the actions taken.
- Accident recovery. This aspect of the service covers the fairly common occurrence of PC damaged from drops and spills.
- Various levels and types of support. The service offers flexibility via email support or one-on-one personalized support with an agent or a combination of both.
According to Dell’s research, the service will be a significant time saver with up to 88 percent less time spent on issue resolution and up to 77 percent fewer steps in the support process when compared to other premium service offers.
There are several nice features of the service. First, it helps you understand if your current configuration is optimized for the right performance. When a PC is new, this feature doesn’t seem as important. After several months of use, it’s easy for a consumer to have a bloated suboptimal configuration. Transferring the contents of an old PC to a newer model also brings with it duplicate files, out of data applications and other areas that can be optimized.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a hot buzz word in the media but proactive and predictive alerts are real world applications of AI. It can predict items such as hard drive failure or send proactive alerts to let you know that your battery failed. A proactive alert can automatically contact Dell to log a support request and ask you to confirm your details for support.
Most consumer PCs are vulnerable to malicious software because security is a pain to deploy, update and manage. Dell’s new service aims to minimize security woes by ensuring the PC has the right security with minimal user intervention. To do this, Dell has automated virus scanning and removal. With ransomware and other threats on the rise, any support for eliminating security threats is welcome. The consumer service mirrors what Dell offers in the commercial market in many ways. The automation, predictive services, and security aspects have been field tested with enterprise deployments. It’s good to see the concepts of enterprise grade support filtering down to the consumer marketplace.
Clearly, PC support and maintenance has been a long standing consumer pain point in the industry. Apple successfully used customer support as a competitive differentiator. The Apple Genius Bar services are the hallmark of in-person care, but it doesn’t provide the same type of software-based predictive support and virus removal. Clearly, consumers need a simpler, proactive solution to deal with the mounting security threats and hardware management. It will be interesting to see what Lenovo, HP Inc. and others will offer next on the customer care front to compete with Dell’s offering.