Dell extends automated ProSupport Plus service to PCs and tablets

Dell sees a strong channel play for this extended support bundle for endpoints, and expects partners will do even better than they did with the initial bundles for the data centre.

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Jim Roth, Dell’s Executive Director of the Support and Deployment Product Group

Dell has extended its ProSupport Plus support service, which provides additional proactive and predictive support beyond traditional reactive support, to PCs and tablets. Aimed at the entire gamut of Dell customers, it offers a significant reduction over reactive support in the amount of time and end user will require to solve their problem.

Dell ProSupport Plus was initially launched in April 2013 for Dell’s data centre products – servers, storage and networking. Endpoint support required more time.

“It was definitely a technical decision not to support endpoints at that time,” said Jim Roth, Dell’s Executive Director of the Support and Deployment Product Group. “If you think of the Internet of Things, the back end is common, with Hadoop, but it’s all about instrumenting the devices. In 2013, we had the back end to launch this on our servers, storage arrays and switches, but instrumentation for PCs and tablets took more time.”

The secret sauce here, which differentiates ProSupport Plus from what competitors are able to offer today, is Dell’s SupportAssist technology. Traditional reactive support, which is also the basis for Dell’s less expensive ProSupport (without the Plus) bundles as well as the competition, is manual.

“The end user detects a problem on their system, and if they are a consumer or small business, they phone the manufacturer, and if they are a larger company, they submit a ticket to their IT department or support provider, and the manufacturer’s support establishes symptoms, and then the troubleshooting begins,” Roth said.

“In contrast, the way the proactive support works, is that if a memory failure takes place, the system will phone home, set up a ticket and send diagnostic support itself,” Roth continued. “Dell support then calls the customer and confirms the address to send the part. The time on the phone for the customer is five minutes versus 34 minutes if they phone in after the failure takes place.” The metrics translate into an 84 per cent reduction in time on the phone and a 58 per cent reduction in steps needed to resolve the problem.”

The predictive element of the support Roth said was even cooler, because it removes the downtime caused by the device failure entirely.

“It anticipates hard drive failure before it fails, and then goes through the same process,” Roth said. “The customer also gets to keep their old hard drive, which typically has to be returned because the manufacturer gets credits from the supplier for it. Customers often don’t like shipping the hard drive off for security reasons, even if they have already wiped it.”

At present, predictive support is on hard drives and batteries only, although Roth said the plan is to expand this to more components.

Only Dell products can be covered by ProSupport plus, which means no other vendors, and of course, no smartphones. Customers will need traditional support for those devices. Roth doesn’t see this ability to cover all of a customer’s endpoints as a problem to selling the service.

“There will be no change in workflow for their IT staff with their other contracts covering the other devices, so the only difference will be that their support on their Dell devices will be much enhanced,” he said. “In addition, a Dell partner can set it up so the workflow can go through them in TechDirect [Dell’s online tool for managing warranty support].”

Roth expects the channel will do at least as well with ProSupport Plus endpoint protection as they did with the datacentre service, and likely will do better.

“The channel story here is strong,” he said. “The proactive message really resonates with the channel. We’ve seen very good success in the datacentre and we expect the same if not greater success on the PC and tablet side, because the partners can introduce themselves into the workflow, and use the combination of SupportAssist and Tech Direct to deliver a strong customer experience.”

ProSupport Plus covers Dell Latitude, OptiPlex, Precision, Vostro, XPS, Venue and Chromebook products. While pricing will vary with the product, for OptiPlex the price differential compared to traditional ProSupport would be $109 for a three year support contract, compared to $79 for ProSupport.