Well, well, Dell’s blog just linked to this blog; that’s a first. It came with a snippy snipe, but I’ll overlook that; I’m sure they have a lot of that stored up after the last year. They said:
Yesterday was the first official day of Dell’s one2one weblog and already Jeff Jarvis and Steve Rubel were kind enough to tell us what we’re doing wrong. Thanks for the feedback, guys. We’ll keep working to get it right.
Shel Holtz weighed in a bit more constructively. Our intention with this blog is to address issues that are important to our customers. Give us some time and we’ll prove it. Robert Scoble told us to listen, and to link to the folks who don’t like us. First step was to launch Dell’s one2one. Check. We’re excited to be here, and we welcome your ideas.
Four links and counting.
I responded in a comment (not yet approved):
Glad you’re here. But Scoble is right: The first step is to listen to the conversation about Dell that is already going on in blogs. You want constructive advice? Let me repeat…
This is what I advised on my blog more than one year ago, on July 1, 2005: I said Dell needed to learn “…about how their customers now have a voice; about how their customers are a community — a community often in revolt; about how they could find out what their customers really think; about how they could fix their customers’ problems before they become revolts; about how they could become a better company with the help of their customers. If they’d only listen.”
Your blog policy at the time, the Houston Chronicle’s Dwight Silverman found out from your spokesman, was “look, don’t touch.” But now you’re touching. Well, that’s good. But giving us a blog that just tries to sell us the wonders of Dell is not entering into the conversation.
Someone there should have the guts to deal head-on with the now-renowned customer service problem your company has. Be brave. Be direct. Be transparent. Blog about your hold time. About your customer service satisfaction ratings. About your return rate. About your reliability. Go out and quote the blogs that are writing about you every day and then answer their problems, concerns, and questions. Best yet: Ask your customers what we think you should be doing. That would get you respect. That would be a real conversation.
If you want more advice about what a Dell blog could be and could accomplish, I know I’m one of many who’d be happy to oblige.
: I just found my open letter to Michael Dell, in which I gave fuller advice:
1. Read blogs. Go to Technorati, Icerocket, Google, Bloglines, Pubsub, and search for Dell and read what they’re saying about you. Get it out of your head that these are “bloggers,” just strange beasts blathering. These are consumers, your marketplace, your customers — if you’re lucky. They are just people. You surely spend a fortune on consumer research, on surveys and focus groups and thinktanks to find out what people are thinking. On blogs, they will tell you for free. All you have to do is read them. All you have to do is listen.
2. Talk with your consumers. One of your executives said you have a look-don’t-touch policy regarding blogs. How insulting that is: You ignore your consumers? You act as if we’re not here? How would you like it if you gave someone thousands of dollars and they ignored you? You’re not used to being treated that way. Neither are we. It’s just rude. These bloggers care enough to talk about your products and service and brands. The least you can do is engage them and join the conversation. You will learn more than any think tank can ever tell you about what the market thinks of your products. But go to the next step: Ask ask your consumers what they think you should do. You’ll end up with better products and you’ll do a better job selling them to more satisfied customers who can even help each other, if you’ll let them. It’s good business, gentlemen.
3. Blog. If Microsoft and Sun and even GM, fercapitalismsake, can have their smartest blogging. So why shouldn’t you? Or the better question: Why should you? Because it’s a fad? No. Because it will make you cool with your kids? No. Blog because it shows that you are open and unafraid — no, eager — to engage your consumers, eye-to-eye.
4. Listen to all your bad press and bad blog PR and consumer dissatisfaction and falling stock price and to the failure of your low-price strategy and use that blog to admit that you have a problem. Then show us how you are going to improve quality and let us help. Make better computers and hire customer service people who serve customers.
It sounds so simple, so downright silly, doesn’t it? But that’s what you’re not doing now. And that’s why you lost me as a customer. But if you join the conversation your customers are having without you, it may not be too late.
P.S. I have one Dell left in the house, my son’s. And just last night, he said he had to buy a fan to put under his machine to suck the heat out so the graphics card won’t overheat and slow down every time he plays a game. He looked online and found that people have complained to Dell… but no one would listen. Do you hear us now?
P.P.S. My son and webmaster is now very happy with his MacBook Pro.
: Some contrarian folks‘ think other bloggers and I aren’t giving Dell enough time and slack. Sorry. They’ve had a year to figure this out. They’re smart. They have money. And this is the best they can do out of the gate? This is not about blog orthodoxy. This is about consumerism. They’ve been screwing their customers and they know it — why else are they hiring tons of new support people and doing PR about it? — but their first effort to join the conversation is to promote their products and not deal with what people are already saying about them? Sorry. That’s lame. I refuse to see Dell as the poor, pitiful object of sympathy.
: LATER: Steve Rubel gives Dell free advice.