Dell Direct .. A Little Wavy


Giving speeches (I really like to think of it as sharing knowledge and passion) is a great way to keep up to date on a topic. I'm putting together a presentation for the Brookhaven Rotary Club on social media/blogs and reading lots of corporate blogs. Part of the focus of this talk is to show how major corporations are using the medium as a business/marketing strategy.

Dell_direct Today  I checked out Dell's new blog - Direct2Dell. August 24th's post, Rampant Speculation on the XPS 700, appears to be a wonderful example of how to use blogs as a customer service strategy. Would seem that Dell is providing additional information to help clarify a situation where customers are posting incorrect information on boards and in major tech publications.

Several of you have been asking specifically about the NVIDIA 590 chipset and the XPS 700. Other recent forums entries like Tom’s Hardware and CNET contain some misinformation that needs to be cleared up. ....

Terrific! Here's what to do if people get it wrong and how blogs can be used to tell your side of the story. With 50 comments, as of 8/29/06, this post seems to hit home for more than a few people.

Delving into the comments however is a slightly different story. Seems most customers are really frustrated with Dell. But wait, Dell is trying to right a wrong. Right? Some people were appreciative that Dell provided more information and is working to correct the situation.  However, the majority were plain pissed off.

But  wait ..  Dell  responds .. or rather in bloggy fashion, the Dell person who authors the blog, Lionel Menchaca, Digital Media Manager responds.

All, First off: wanted to apologize to David M. and any others who feel like this post does not reflect compassion to our XPS 700 customers.  My intent was to address these issues as clearly as possible.

I understand many of you have been seeking answers to these questions for a long time, and agree that it's unacceptable. We'll continue to issue updates via this blog and the Dell Community Forum as soon as humanly possible.  (Not an excuse but please know there are many moving parts to coordinate.)  I understand there are many more technical, order and shipment questions we have left to answer, will do my best to diligently address them. However, more than anything, I know that many of you have waited a long time for this product.  More updates coming soon.

I want to personally thank every XPS 700 customer.  I appreciate your passion for this product.

For the most part, the comments posted after Lionel's response were more questions with a few intense rants. These are serious people. Dell Customers whose business lives were disrupted.

I'm not a CPU tech. I am trusting you Dell. You have said it is upgradable. When im ready to purchase an upgrade is Dell going to have it? Because if anyone knows this machine it would be Dell. Or are you expecting us to use other companies? Can you PLEASE answer this???

Lionel responded back on 8/28.

I’m reading comments and e-mails to me, and several of you have said that the speculation is a result of us not communicating as fast as we should have—I agree.  We'll continue to use the Dell Forum and our blog to communicate details as quickly as we can. Sometimes we made mistakes... one example: at launch, we inadvertently offered more configuration options for graphics and multimedia than our PCI slots could support. We've since corrected the webstore. I realize we should have been more timely with updates, and we're focused on improving on that front. To that end, I'll post an update on the NVIDIA 7950 issue soon. Thanks to everyone for their continued patience.

Toss of a pink boa to DellPink_boa_14 for keeping comments open.  However, splash of a dirty martini in its face for not having an integrated customer response strategy.

Lessons Learned
: Even a blog that allows customers to let steam off and voice their opinions is NOT sufficient when customers feel there was a break-down in communications and breach of trust. Lionel's response is customer service 101. Acknowledge the customer's feelings. Take responsibility for your actions. Tell what you are going to do. However, this situation called for more. It demanded direct answers to direct questions .. either on-blog or off-blog.

Question: When customers are allowed and encouraged to voice their opinons on a corporate blog, and that corporation does not respond to their specific questions, does that do more harm than good to the brand?

Take Away .. and so what am I going to take to the Brookhaven Rotary? Blogs enable converstions to occur with customers and other stakeholders that might not have been possible any other way. Social media is an important business strategy. People can talk to you on your own blog or talk about you on other forums.

However, once that door has been opened, there is an obligation to nuture and care for those relationships that go beyond an online discussion. Customer service, branding, pricing, product development, sales must walk the talk of your social media conversations. That said, social media is one aspect of an integrated marketing plan.

Wonder what Mary Clare Hunt ,author of In Women We Trust, would have to say?


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Integrated marketing is an interesting tool, Toby. I think most corporations are still struggling with the Internet in general, and social media has thrown them for a loop. It's good to see Dell is trying - I hope others take this as a sign of things to come. Thanks for the head's up.

Posted by: Yvonne DiVita on Aug 29, 2006 8:29:41 AM

Hi Toby,

I have been more postively impressed than negatively impressed by Dell's actions on its blog. (And I am a Dell customer with a laptop.)

Remember, their blog is brand spanking new and I think they are just getting used to using it.

Are they using it perfectly? As you point out, no.

And the guy you quoted probably feels like he just got his head pushed within 2 centimeters of a whizzing buzz saw, and he sounds like he is trying to figure things out on the fly. Right about now he's wondering, "why me?"

But I say give them a chance to get better. All things considered, for a company the size of Dell and with as many laptops as affected, the number of negative comments is actually quite small. At least Dell is farther ahead than most companies in figuring out how to use a blog.


Posted by: Anita Campbella on Aug 29, 2006 9:28:16 AM

I hope I'm not jinxing my computer, but I've owned Dell desktop PCs since 1999, and they have performed well for me. Nonetheless, it's good to know that Dell is improving its customer support in case (gasp!) something happens to my machine.

Posted by: Martha on Aug 29, 2006 10:41:02 AM

Good points.

Rereading the post it might appear as a bash Dell .. it really should be taken as a flag and "lesson learned" for all companies that once the blogs/social media window is opened, it is critical that the company have an integrated strategy regarding how to foster those relationships.

You are right. We are all learning and the Dells of the world should be given kudos for their transparency which affords us the opportunity to watch as a company works thru their growing pains.

Posted by: Toby on Aug 29, 2006 10:45:16 AM

Very interesting points on the growing Dell brand. I think Toby really hit it with the point that even as big as Dell is they are still trying to grow and improve. I think I am a little bit like Martha in the long run, I find a computer that is reliable and continue until it lets me down!

Posted by: Evan on Sep 14, 2006 9:39:32 PM

Dell India based call centers do acknowledge customer feelings.

Dell India based call centers acknowledge the customer ask and confirm they will clear up the issue.

The problem is the exchange is shallow and the India based agents have no empathy as they operate in fear managed by incentives of management.

I have purchased 5 computers in the last 2 years and my last purchase of a canon PowerShot has tarnished our relationship.

Hey Dell take a lesson from Xerox.

During the 1980’s Xerox was faced with low price competition from Japan, their prices were lower than Xerox’s cost.

Xerox embarked on a company wide total quality management initiative. They placed customer service metrics over profit. They increased 1st level customer service representatives credit limit from $2,500 to $25,000 – an order of magnitude. Their finance people were concerned.

The result, customer representative’s were empowered, they felt customer’s pain and customers were satisfied sooner. Customers remained loyal.

Profits increased.

Posted by: myexperiencewithdell on Sep 15, 2006 1:01:02 PM

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