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Dell to open new sales facility

Among reasons for the move: The company's desire to reduce the number of customer complaints about Dell service.

Dell plans to add hundreds of new salespeople at a new call center slated to open in Oklahoma City this fall.

The center, which Dell hopes will take its first call in early September, will initially house 250 salespeople and managers, hired from in and around Oklahoma City. Over time it could hold as many as 500 employees, a Dell representative said. The center's main mission will be to take orders from small and medium-size businesses.

The move reflects Dell's recent growth, the company said in a statement Wednesday. Dell has risen to become the largest PC maker in the world. In the first quarter, for example, Dell out-shipped second-place Hewlett-Packard by over 1 million computers, shipping 7.7 million machines to HP's 6.4 million, according to IDC.

But the rapid pace of Dell's growth has put some strain on its systems, leading to some customer complaints about lackluster service, including problems with sales and order shipments. Other customers say they've been less satisfied with Dell's technical support than in the past. Dell has been working to address those complaints in a number of ways, the company has said, one of which has been adding personnel.

Additionally, Dell's plans show that the company recognizes the importance of the market for small and medium-size businesses. Although individual businesses in the category don't buy as many PCs each as their Fortune 1000 counterparts, small and medium-size businesses as a whole represent a big opportunity for companies such as Dell. The Round Rock, Texas, PC maker, along with rivals such as Gateway, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, offers a variety of products and services directed at small and medium-size businesses, and these companies are seeking to win more of those customers.

Meanwhile, despite the new center's focus on sales, there's at least some possibility that Dell might use the office to serve other business needs in the future, a company representative said.

"We'll evaluate and measure the business needs," she said, adding though that it's "too early to commit to future plans."

The Oklahoma City office, which will start at a temporary location and move later to a permanent facility, joins several other Dell sales and support hubs. They include a center at Dell's headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, as well as facilities in Waco, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; Roseburg, Ore.; and Twin Falls, Idaho.