Dell / Della - How not to sell tech to (discerning) women

Following a long UK bank holiday weekend – spent largely in choosing myself a new smartphone – I was amused to see coverage of Dell’s launch of its Della microsite, aimed just at women, among my blog feeds.

I’m a little late to the party on this one – the site launched earlier this month – so I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Cate Sevilla (“Dell, you don’t need to paint it pastel, make it inspirational and call it Della. Simply try harder. Think differently. Not obviously.”) on BitchBuzz for the full expose of just how much this particular attempt at female-friendly marketing has backfired, at least within the professional and IT communities.

Still, at least they didn’t make it all pink…

And it’s not just Dell who could stand to learn that the best way to sell tech to women is to provide good customer service and real information, rather than a slick of surface gloss.

While on the prowl for a new smartphone I wasn’t quite given the ‘this one comes in pink with free make-up’ sales technique by the shop staff (though there are plenty of mobile phone offers that do fall into that category), but I wasn’t met with great advice either, at least on my first trip. Despite asking questions about which phones came with GPS, had Flash-equipped web browsers, push-email, and so on, I got directed repeatedly to staff members’ own music phones or the iPhone. The worst response I got was a straight ‘don’t know’ from one very young assistant.

Needless to say, none of those shops got my custom, even though I had been very prepared to switch provdier and tariff for the right deal on the right device.

In the end I did my own research online, narrowing my choice down to an E71 or N96, and headed into Croydon town centre for some help to make the final decision. After another dodgy ‘dunno’ in one chain’s store (originally my preferred vendor, but not after that response), I finally found some genuinely good service in the Three shop. The female assistant who started serving me showed a number of features confidently and clearly, but when asked if the E71’s web browser was Flash-enabled admitted she didn’t know, but immediately went to find a member of staff who did, and who was also able to talk me through all the features of that phone, and the comparison with the N96, in full detail.

In the end I opted for the E71, happy and confident that it was the best solution avaiable for my needs – and if it hadn’t been for my existing network making a very pleasing deal-matching response to my PAC code request, the good service from the staff at Three would have won their network my contract switch too.