My team and I have spent the last several weeks offering our analysis on the boatload of news from CES 2019, which was held in Las Vegas last month. As CES is a conference for all things consumer electronics, Dell showed off an impressive array of new, cutting-edge additions to its PC lineup (which I covered here and analyst Anshel Sag wrote here). Today, though, I wanted to take some time to talk about something that I consider to be an overlooked gem in Dell’s CES announcements and offerings—the infusion of AI into Dell’s services and support.
Dell Premium Support Plus
Dell’s consumer support plans are broken into three tiers:
- Basic Hardware Support
- Premium Support
- Premium Support Plus
All of these are underpinned by Dell’s SupportAssist technology. Touted as “the ultimate support service for consumer PCs,” Premium Support Plus is the, well, premium option, and I think the tagline is fair.
Launched back in July of 2017, Premium Support Plus is geared towards Dell’s consumer Inspiron, XPS, and Alienware lines, and includes the widest range of support services of all the plans. This includes 24/7 direct access to hardware and software phone support, on-site support, repairs for accidental damages, international support, parental control software support, and more. Perhaps most importantly, Premium Support Plus allows customers to take full advantage of all of Dell’s SupportAssist technology features. This is where AI really comes into the picture, with an impressive array of automated predictive capabilities. In short, Premium Support Plus offers a complete coverage model for practically any support scenario you can imagine.
Making customer support smarter with SupportAssist
SupportAssist enables a number of features for Premium Support Plus subscribers. I have analyzed the offering, and it does proactively detect problems, predicting issues before they start. If an issue is detected, SupportAssist contacts Dell, which starts working on the program while it notifies you. Other crucial SupportAssist features are the automated removal of viruses and malware and the automatic optimization of PC performance. To accomplish all of this, SupportAssist leverages machine learning and deep learning to find patterns of fault. These aren’t fake AI, this is machine and deep learning done with the TensorFlow framework. These patterns are utilized to further evolve and strengthen SupportAssist’s AI models.
Currently, Dell says SupportAssist analyzes over 250 million events a day and performs over 70 million auto-fixes annually. Dell works to resolve existing or potential problems before the customer even knows about it; this results in a lot of saved time and avoided headaches on the customer’s end. This is also a great example of big data in action. In all the support offerings I’ve examined, there are no others out there that feature this predictive capability—I believe this is a true differentiator for Dell.
Dell Premium Support Plus notifies customers before their hard drive fails, giving them ample time to perform backups (on average, 50 days before!). Additionally, the company says Premium Support Plus with Support Assist is capable of resolving hard drive failures much more quickly than certain leading competitors’ support services (which I will leave unnamed), taking up to 88% less time. We use our PCs for everything—work and play. A crashed hard drive without a recent backup can be catastrophic, and the longer a hard drive is down, the worse the consequences can be (especially if it is your primary work device). While I’d love to say that hard drives aren’t a thing anymore, the truth is more PCs are shipped with hard drives than SSD.
Dell already had solid support for consumers, with constant access to hardware and software assistance, accident coverage, and worldwide support. The company scored Laptop Mag’s #1 Windows notebook support score for 2018. The addition of the automated predictive features to Dell’s premium support option is a great move, in my opinion, that takes some of the onus off of the customer to detect problems and initiate support orders.
While these features didn’t get much attention at CES 2019, they’re a crucial element of the user experience for the next-generation laptops announced at the conference. Taken all together, Dell’s Premium Support Plus plan with SupportAssist represents an all-inclusive contract that promises to make problem resolution quicker and more convenient than ever. Perhaps more importantly, in a world where optimization is key, it keeps PCs running at top performance.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.