Here's the question that I posed to my Twitter followers last week (@ShawnAnderson):
Why can Domino's do minute-by-minute tracking of a $10 pizza but Dell can only say that your server is either “In Production” or “Shipped”?
Three weeks ago I decided to enhance my in-house lab with a server that could host about 20 virtual machines. After all, what better way to freshen up on newer products as well as enhance my blogs with step-by-step videos? Lastly, which perhaps I should have stated firstly, I wanted to add a little extra after-hours customer support for our Software Deployment tool Admin Arsenal.
About three hours after I placed the order I could see that my status was “In Production”.
Fast forward 2 weeks. Dell is displaying the same “In Production” status. Has nothing changed in two weeks? Really? It’s getting very close to the estimated delivery time, but no status change. Finally an email arrives at 2AM informing me of the delay.
Fast forward another week. I check status. No change. Bummer. It’s 6:02 PM Friday evening. The kids are hungry, nothing had been prepared for dinner so I jump to Dominos.com and order pizza.
Maybe it’s because I have Dell on the brain, but the online order process for my pizza was quite similar to ordering my server. As I selected an online coupon and started building my pizzas, I was reminded with a bright colored dialog box that my order had a problem, I had omitted the included 2-liter bottle of root beer offered on the coupon. I recall a similar shining notice on Dell when I was selecting the hard drives and had inadvertantly selected the wrong type for my desired configuration.
Way to go Dell and Domino's. You’ve both perfected the ordering process. So how about the production and delivery phases? Here’s how it goes with Domino's.
6:05 PM, ordered online. Order accepted and in production. The pizza started preparation at 6:07 PM by someone named Dean (you can see his name at the bottom of the image).
Sweet. I let my wife know that I had ordered pizza (she was just preparing to send me a text asking me to do that very thing). I resumed my work, but I kept the Dominos website up to stay abreast of the status.
The next time I glanced at the screen it looked something like this (actually it looked exactly like this). Dean had removed the pizzas from the oven and was boxing ’em up.
With the next status change I learned that our delivery driver would be Bryan and that he had left the store at 6:26 with our healthy dinner in tow.
Let’s compare this 24 minute Domino's experience with my yet-to-be-completed three week order with Dell.
Here’s what the Dell status read after my order was placed and my purchase funds verified:
7 days later here is what my status read:
17 days after my order (and three days after my delay notice) here is what my status read:
And this morning, 18 days after my order was placed, and after two customer service calls where the reps were kind and professional but still could not see the cause of the delay, here is what I see:
But wait! That’s not true. If I drill down into my order, I’ll eventually see this:
Awesome! Let me get my shipping and tracking info. But when I click on the “Shipped” link I see this pop-up:
Oh, OK. I guess the “Shipped” link won’t take me to my shipping information but will provide me with the English definition of ‘shipping’. That’s OK because I was a little unclear about what it meant.
Let’s click on another link to get my shipping info. Ummm, how about clicking on the order number? (Do I dare click on this?) I’m a little worried that I will be sent to wikipedia for the comprehensive history of order numbers… but nowhere else to click, so let’s roll the dice baby.
Alas! It takes me to my shipping detail page so that I can get my up-to-the-intersection status of my delivery… or not.
OK. I want to cut Dell some slack here. It changed status on a Friday night and they probably don’t do weekend shipping for non-premium, non-enterprise, completely inconsequential customers (I mean that sincerely, by the way). So I would expect tracking info on Monday… oh wait, Monday is a federal holiday… so by Monday I mean Tuesday.
When I spoke with Dell they informed me that server would arrive before my delayed deadline. With the federal holiday looming that means that Dell will be footing the bill for 2-day shipping. OK. I’m good with that.
Dell really did have great customer service, but imagine what it could’ve been if Dell only followed Dominos lead on a $10 pizza.
OK – I admit that I don’t need to know which person is working on my system at any given moment (though it’s a cool feature and really humanizes a company). But a status that is as broad as “In Production” is useless.
There are too many phases wrapped in that definition. There is part ordering from within Dell, part ordering from vendors, part shipment from within or without the manufacturing plant, assembly, testing, and finally acceptance.
Imagine how cool it would be if I saw that my order was delayed due to short supply of 750GB hard drives. Even cooler would be if I could have interacted with Dell and opted instead for their plentiful stock of 1TB drives. The difference in cost would have been perhaps $200-$300 but could’ve saved me a week of waiting.
I don’t know if delayed parts were the issue, and neither does Dell customer service. However, someone at Dell knows why my server was delayed, but in the era of instant data transmission that information is eerily absent.
Who’d have thought that a multi-billion dollar company that sells servers and workstations could learn from a… umm… multi-billion dollar company that sells pizza. OK, that’s not as profound as I’d hoped.
But still… imagine the possibilities.
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