Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) could soon take its "customer direct" model one step closer.
In a public post on Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Google+ social networking subdomain, CEO Michael Dell wondered whether customers would welcome something like Google's Hangouts group video chat platform as an option for tech support.
"I am thinking about hangouts for business," he posted on Sunday. "Would you like to be able to connect with your Dell service and sale teams via video directly from Dell.com?"
If Dell did offer video support, it wouldn't be the first time the company has shrewdly capitalized on emerging Web technologies. The computer maker was making money on Twitter back in 2009, promoting clearance sales through its @DellOutlet account. Back then, few boardrooms even knew what Twitter was, or what they could gain from a simple tweet.
Video chat is becoming more common on the Web, from the notorious ChatRoulette to Google+ and a similar service from Facebook. Thus, why wouldn't Dell step up its game by putting a human face on its tech support? That might also help Dell counter its reputation for outsourcing computer queries to Bangalore call centers.
Free PC-to-PC videoconferencing could radically disrupt the support outsourcing industry. I'm not just talking about Infosys (Nasdaq: INFY ) and Wipro (NYSE: WIT ) in India. Even LivePerson (Nasdaq: LPSN ) , the text-chat support specialist for many of the leading tech companies, e-tailers, and wireless carriers, could be threatened if cost-effective video chats gained popularity.
On the flip side, as much as someone may want to see the person at the other end of a support call, they may not really want anyone else to see them. Discussions of blown motherboards or orders for new servers don't necessarily need to take place face to face.
Could video chat change tech support as we know it? If Michael Dell wasn't just floating a trial balloon, we might find out soon enough.
Would video chat customer support interest you? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.