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Dell, like a sleeping giant, appears to be waking up....


No doubt the public response to their joining the conversation with their one2one blog has been a rude awakening. But still -- you could have knocked me over with a feather when I got a call from "Dell Resolution Expert" Rick South, who's promised to look into the issues I've had with Dell in the past and see if they can convince me to make my next computer a Dell.
I gotta say, that's pretty impressive. But hey, if they'd bother to call and email me, why am I banned from the Dell blog?
My phone call from Dell and the strategy that led to it are remarkable on several counts. Dell has realized that:
1- a single customer, even one who may have bought only one Dell computer, can influence other customers and potential customers worldwide and turn them off to the brand
2- social media gives customers the ability to reach other customers and potential customers directly, bypassing mainstream media
3- businesses live and die on the reputation among their customers, not by what bankers, brokers,stockholders, industry analysts, or mainstream media say about the company
4- on the Internet, content is forever.
A fundamental shift in the way Dell deals with customers is necessary. But they have to start somewhere, and bloggers are a good place to begin. Notice they didn't try to get mass media to transmit this message, or to deliever their message with advertising the way Ford is doing. Dell is becoming painfully aware that customers believe other customers. They care what a company does, not what it says.
Negative comments from bloggers and other customers will always be in search engines. However, if Dell can truly improve its customer service to the point where the majority of comments are positive, those will rise to the top. People will be able to see, by looking at search results, that there have been many problems in the past. But if customers start having nice things to say about Dell, it will be clear that change is taking place, and the positive comments will rise in search engine ranking. That's a heavy order, but it's the one Dell needs to fill.
Dell knows they have a huge customer service issue, South told me, and they're determined to do something about it. Since bloggers have been extremely vocal about the problems they've encountered, they've put together a team that is investigating some of the worst srervice issues reported in blogs. And now, he says, they will try to do something to sweeten the bad taste that was left by encounters with Dell customer service.
As Jeff Jarvis pointed out today: "nevermind caveat emptor. This is the age of caveat venditor - let the vendor beware -- and caveat creator."
Stay tuned.....

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

B.L. Ochman is a social media marketing strategist for S&P 500 companies, including McGraw Hill, IBM, Cendant, and American Greetings. She publishes What's Next Blog and Ethics Crisis, where readers can confess their worst ethics transgressions and others can rate them on a scale of one to ten. She also blogs for MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog.