Dell as Your Trusted Advisor: Your Local IT Gal or Dell?

Last week I was speaking with Tom West, Dell’s Director of Small Business Marketing and one of the things he mentioned was that Dell wants to be (and is to thousands and thousands) the trusted adviser to small businesses.

This got me thinking, how can Dell do this?
What about local technology providers? What about the support from Best Buy for Business, Circuit City, Staples and others who provide various levels of support and service.
Dell’s doing it in several ways.
1. When you are ready to buy a computer and call Dell, the sales person first finds out what your needs are and about your business – to better understand what kind of computer(s) and/or other things you want and need.
2. Dell can then help you install the hardware and software on site. Who comes to your office really depends on where you are and what your needs are. But either way, it will be a Dell employee or a Dell partner.
If something is not working with your Dell hardware then of course Dell’s support is the way to go. Dell has remote support, on site support and telephone support.
If you need other services from Dell such as software or hardware installation, Dell has a variety of fee based options for you to consider. Dell’s On Call service looks like the best route. This service can help you with Dell and non-Dell issues.
The question boils down to price, trust and competence.
Dell is not directly competing for the $ of your local consultant. Dell is most going to go head to head for the dollars of those who do not have an IT consultant. This will affect Best Buy, CDW and others more than local consultants (who often buy Dell hardware for their customers in any case).
These competing retailers sell products like Dell does, so have the relationship with customers. The question is will the product customer become a service customer for these retailers who want to grow their services business.
I think its fair to say that the IT consultant from Dell or the one from Best Buy, CDW, etc are going to have similar IT skills. They might even be from the same outsourced IT services company. If your IT consultant is one of those grizzled, 15 year experts, they’re support is going to be better than the average 23 year olds skills. But most IT issues your average IT guy/gal can handle or ask for help from their more experienced peers.
What else…
Remember, Dell’s bread and butter comes from selling products – not support. So at the end of the day if you buy $50,000 worth of hardware from Dell, I don’t think Dell’s going to worry about your local consultant providing the needed services.
Although Dell’s bread and butter is selling products, it will continue to roll out value added services such as a new backup service that CRN reports on.
If you want your hardware provider to also consult with you, the best way to make sure you get the best service and support is to be sure to buy the right level of support contracts for your hardware.
When something goes wrong with your server you can call your local IT consultant or call Dell (or whoever your hardware vendor is). If you have purchased premium support, Dell (in this case) will take care of everything – being your trusted adviser.