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What does “customer care” or “in a moment” mean to you?

Probably something very different from what Dell and McAfee mean. The words you use make a big difference on the Internet. Carefully chosen, they can keep a customer happy. Sloppily chosen, they can infuriate.

“Please be patient. An agent will be with you in a moment.” So stated the McAfee text in the chat support box.

The only problem was that there were 22 people before me in the queue. The last time I checked the definition of “moment,” it didn't mean “a couple of hours.”

I talked to a senior manager from a multinational recently. He was frustrated because he felt the organization was not paying enough attention to what was written on its Web sites. Staff who would be obsessive about getting a press release right were careless when it came to content on the Web.

I like the way Dell has changed its advertising strategy. Gone is the focus on technical specifications. Dell now has a human face. Watching these warm, funny, irreverent ads, you'd almost think Dell cared about its customers.

I bought an accessory for my Dell laptop that didn't work. When I rang support, they couldn't wash their hands of me quickly enough. The sales rep who sold it to me wouldn't return my calls or emails. I finally got onto Dell's online support. I told them they had just lost a customer for life.

Here's the reply I got: “Thank you for using the Dell Community Forum.”

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image of Gerry McGovern
Gerry McGovern (gerry@gerrymcgovern.com) is a content management consultant and author. His latest book is The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online, which teaches unique techniques for identifying and measuring the performance of customers' top tasks.