Is Dell Customer Service Good? 2018 Rating
You can get tech support for your Dell laptop from a wide variety of sources, including web resources, phone, live chat, Twitter and Facebook. In our tests, all of these media provided accurate, timely answers. However, I was most impressed with the phone and live chat, where, after our initial call was completed, we were given an email address where we could contact the same technician again for other issues.
|Dell Tech Support|
|Overall||Web Score||Phone Score||Avg Call Time||Phone Number||Web Support|
|Phone Hours (ET): 24/7|
To test Dell's customer service, I used two different laptops: an Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 and an Inspiron 15 5000. In addition to our standard questions about how to set up Cortana and how to protect my computer from Spectre and Meltdown, I asked Dell how to adjust the color temperature on the Inspiron 15.
Whichever method I used to contact Dell, I was always asked for my laptop's unique service tag ID number, which the company uses to track your history of support requests. It makes sense that the company would want to know exactly who is contacting them and what model the users have. But I felt a little awkward when I fired off a quick Tweet, expecting a brief response and instead got a call from my personal support guru in India several hours later.
Dell doesn't make it easy to find the consumer support number on the company website (you have to click at least four times from the support home page), but once you dial it, you don't have to wait long to be connected. On none of the three support calls I made — two during the day and one at night — did I have to spend any time on hold. I did have to respond to an automated voice prompt that asked for my service tag and what my problem was, but after that, I got a human right away.
On my first call, I was connected to Zohan in India, and I asked him my question about protecting against Spectre and Meltdown. He gave me a brief, but incorrect answer, telling me that because my computer had Windows 10's built-in Windows Defender antivirus app, I was already safe from these security vulnerabilities. While having good security software helps, Windows Update and BIOS updates provide the best way to secure your system. The call lasted just 7 minutes and 28 seconds.
On my second call, which took place at night, I was connected to Vishal in India, and I asked him how to set up Cortana and have it respond to "Hey, Cortana." After he had me install the DellConnect remote-access software, he took over my computer and worked with me to set up Cortana within a few minutes.
However, the Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 was so slow that even clicking in the Cortana box made the computer freeze. I suggested that maybe our connection was just slow and that I would try it again later, but he was insistent that we needed to reset my computer to factory settings in order to get it working well. He then walked me through the process of resetting Windows, which took well over an hour with all the reboots and updates. Since most of that time involved just sitting there and watching the screen without doing anything, I offered to hang up and call him back later, but he insisted on staying on the line with me throughout the whole process.
While I was skeptical about the need to reset the computer, it turned out that Vishal was right. The Inspiron was much faster, and I was able to use Cortana, after we completed the rest. The call lasted an hour and 41 minutes in total. At the end, Vishal told me that he would continue to be available to me directly if I had any problems in the future, and he sent me a follow-up email with a specific email address that I could use to reach him directly. I was eager to hang up, but he was insistent that I make sure I had received his email before we could end the call.
On my third call, I reached Raini in the Philippines and asked her how to change the color temperature on the Inspiron 15 5000's screen, because everything was tinted a little reddish. She also took over my computer via the Dell Connect app. I was hoping she would use the preloaded Dell True Color app to make the screen a little less red, but after a few minutes of exploring the menus on my computer, she found a similar group of color settings in the Intel HD Graphics control panel. Like Vishal, Raini offered to answer any other queries via email. My call with her lasted 29 minutes and 17 seconds.
Web and Social Support
Dell's website provides a solid mix of well-organized support articles. My initial question about how to protect my computer from the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities was answered before I even had a chance to search. Dell has a prominent link to an article about Spectre and Meltdown at the top of the support home page.
After entering my laptop's service tag ID, I was presented with a menu of choices specifically for my model of computer. There are tabs for drivers you can download, instruction manuals, accessories and support articles. I clicked on the support articles tab, which revealed a list of commonly used how-tos and troubleshooting guides.
I didn't see an article on Cortana or on changing the color temperature on my list of Inspiron 15 5000 topics, so I entered those queries in the website's search box. When I searched for Cortana, the top result was a helpful Dell video that showed how to enable "Hey, Cortana" on any Windows 10 computer. Unfortunately, I couldn't find an article on adjusting the color temperature, no matter what search term I tried: "reddish screen," "color settings" and "color temperature," among others. Even searching for "Dell True Color," the utility software that changes the setting, yielded no results.
If you want live help but don't like talking on the phone, Dell also provides a live web-chat option. A few seconds after hitting the chat button, I was connected with Waheed, and I asked him how to protect my computer from Spectre and Meltdown. After a few minutes of radio silence, he sent me a message with a link to Dell's detailed article about the security vulnerabilities.
I thanked him and thought that this would be the end of the conversation, but Waheed asked if he could take control of my computer to run a hardware scan and make sure that I had all the latest security updates. I allowed him to do that, and he took another half an hour or so to complete the task. At the end, he offered to send me an email with his email address so that I could follow up with him directly if I had any support issues in the future.
Dell answers questions via social media if you tweet @DellCares or send a DM to Dell's Facebook account. The company was ready to help, but on both platforms, representatives nudged me to provide my laptop's unique service tag ID.
When I tweeted a question about getting Cortana to recognize "Hey, Cortana," I received a message 30 minutes later from @DellCares, with a link to a support page on Microsoft. This page talked about how to improve the digital assistant's speech-recognition capability.
The Twitter account also asked me for my service tag, and a few hours after I tweeted it back at them, I got a phone call from Vishal. He asked me why I had opened up a "support ticket" about the same question he'd helped me with a couple of days before. When I said that I must have sent the Tweet in error and that he could close the ticket, he insisted that I talk to his boss, who asked me if I was happy with their service before letting me go. As a tester, I felt weird about getting called out like that, but regular consumers may appreciate this kind of personal follow-through.
Using another account, I tweeted a question about changing the color temperature on the Inspiron 15 5000, and @DellCares refused to answer my question until I sent in my service tag ID. Since Raini would probably have just called me and asked why I had the same problem she'd already solved, I gave up on asking that question via Twitter.
I sent a direct message to Dell's Facebook page, asking how to protect my computer from Spectre and Meltdown. About 3 hours later, I got back a detailed response, advising me to make sure that my laptop had all the latest Windows and antivirus updates and sharing a link to Dell's thorough article on the topic. The company also asked for my service tag several times, even sending me messages a few days later to follow up.
Dell backs all of its laptops with a standard one-year warranty, under which the company pays for both inbound and return shipping if you need to send a product in for service. Upgrading parts such as your memory or storage does not void the warranty.
The company offers a wide variety of warranty and support upgrades. You can pay extra to extend the warranty for up to three additional years and you can add accidental-damage protection. The company also has two levels of added support that you can pay extra to get. Available for XPS, Inspiron and Alienware systems, Dell Premium Support features onsite service, support while you travel abroad, and software that automatically detects problems and troubleshoots them immediately. Dell Premium Support Plus has all the same features but adds expert help for non-Dell issues such as setting up your network, editing photos or backing up your data.
With its fast and accurate answers, wide variety of contact methods, and personalized support techs, Dell's customer service is truly top-notch. Some users may be put off by the support techs' aggressive approach — calling you to follow up on Tweets you sent, logging in to check on your computer when just sending a support article would have sufficed or sending you follow-up emails — but the company is bending over backward to help. While there's room for improvement in Dell's selection of web-support articles (I couldn't find one on changing the color temperature), this is one of the best companies for tech support we tested.