Hey Scott, as awacs said, I don't mean to be rude, but my issue is that my parts were sitting in a box for 3 weeks, and when I call for a status update being told to call back in a week wasn't very productive for me, nor your team.
If it's obvious you've got a lot of full boxes around, hire some more assembly technicians for a month and churn them out. If you're selling more, you can hire more, lots of companies do this during the christmas season.
Here are my suggestions to keeping your customers happy during times of turmoil:
1. If things are slow, let your client know. Keep an eye on how many systems are finished per day, inventory the number of systems that still need to be built and give a more accurate time line.
2. This is particularly my issue: If you're running out of a certain kind of hardware, take it off the list before systems get priced including that hardware, sell off the overstock to equipment shops at a small profit. You'll make a bit of money and make no false promises.
3. Don't tell a customer to call back! Assign a few people to updating particular customers that request it via e-mail, refer to #1 and keep them posted on timeline changes.
4. Stop changing policies! We've seen the shipping times change, dead pixel policy, among others. Those policies are a contract with the customer, I'm not just buying your case, the look, the processor, the ram. I'm buying the service, your policies, your customer support and your company. I haven't been very impressed so far, and I don't trust Alienware's word. I've been made several promises that have been broken so far, and I can only assume that you'll break more in the future. If you don't feel you can commit to something, just don't commit, but give me a reason at least (refer to #1).
Honestly, I'm a patient, understanding customer who know's what you're going through, and why it's so tough. The most important thing I tell the developers I over-see is that they can't leave me hanging. If they know there is a problem, that they can't meet a deadline or figure something out tell me as soon as they know, I can't help them meet a deadline if they tell me the day before a milestone. I can always allocate more resources or make arrangements to do something about it if they tell me as soon as they find out.
I chose Alienware initially because everything I read about you is that you're determinied to release a great product, with very high standards. But it's more than that, any monkey can build a PC (I can build one, I'm a monkey). But someone who can follow through with their promises and service will truely make a great impression on their customers.
Seriously, I'm on your side. I see alot of potential in alienware, I just can't abide by lies.