Dell links

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.

Sincerely,

Jeff Jarvis

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 folksthink 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.

  • http://www.limeyinbermuda.com Phil Wells

    I just tried submitting a suggestion for a topic on Dell’s blog using their form.

    Minutes later, I got a non-delivery report to my email address. Brilliant.

  • http://www.copyblogger.com Brian Clark

    Dell (the corporate entity) has had a year to respond, but why not give the actual living and breathing people that have to post on the Dell blog a week or so to get their bearings?

  • http://publishing2.com Scott Karp

    Jeff,

    First of all, labeling those who disagree with you in a particular instance as “contrarian” suggests that they are disagreeing with you just for the sake of disagreeing with you.

    I can’t speak for others, but for my part, in this particular instance, with all due respect, I genuinely disagree with you. Isn’t that what open conversation on the blogosphere is all about? To label disagreement as contrarianism can come off as a rhetorical device unless it’s substantiated.

    Now, as to the facts of thise case — Dell, has much of the blogosphere (contrarian or otherwise) out in force defending them against the criticism that you and Steve put forth. Everyone — including Dell — concedes that they still have A LOT of work to do, so there’s no disagreement with you on that score.

    But for the first time, the blogosphere is defending Dell rather than trashing it — I’d say that’s a pretty darn good right out of the gate, wouldn’t you?

  • http://www.jayandrewallen.com Jay Andrew Allen

    “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.”

    Um, Jeff? It’s not like you’re exactly being Mr. Congenial yourself. What’s good for the goose…

    I know they done you wrong, but give credit where credit is due. Like Microsoft, Dell is making patient but important strides in overhauling their corporate communications and promotion model. Homeostatis is a powerful force that holds human beings and companies to the status quo. Give ‘em time to adjust to this Brave New World.

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  • http://www.jncs.com Jerry Jacobsen

    We’re also in the build to order computer business, although at 45b per year, Dell does about 10,000 times the business that we do!

    One good place for Dell to check ‘real’ customer comments would be at http://www.resellerratings.com. They have a lifetime rating of 4.37 / 10, a 6 month rating of 3.75 / 10.

    It wouldn’t be that hard for Dell folks to monitor sites such as that and respond to negative posts. People will often soften their negative reviews if someone will just take the time to talk to them in person. Also, they’ll see what the complaints are all about and may be able to set up some processes to fix them, if they really care.

  • Rick

    Yo Jarvis

    Quit being so annoying man. Get a life and get over Dell you loser. Your like some guy who cant get over a girl who dumped him. Seriously dude find something else to do. There’s more to life then just hating Dell. If you keep doing this crap you’ll probably end up in Dell Hell. Quit being a dickweed

  • http://thefatguy.com/ Scott Chaffin

    The first step is to listen to the conversation about Dell that is already going on in blogs.

    There’s absolutely no way for you to know that they haven’t been doing exactly that.

  • http://technocratsoapbox.com Yee-Chuan ‘YC’ Ng

    Mr. Jarvis

    Don’t worry. I’m on your side (and there are many of us).

    I cannot help but feel that those who defend DELL have not had the opportunity to:

    1. Communicate with the “infamous” Customer Service Centers in India (and, on certain occasions, be verbally abused).

    2. Own faulty DELL Products and received no help from the company whatsoever.

    Until one of those two things happen, a person cannot fully understand and be sympathetic towards “our collective plight.”

  • http://xri.net/=pheloxi pheloxi

    Rome was not build in a day!
    Dell’s costumerservice is called a lot in a day!
    Dell’s blog was tried to be built in a year!

    give them a chance!

    p.s. the French and the Brits took about 400 years to agree and built a Channel Tunnel.

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  • Steve Jones

    Put a sock in it Jeff. Here you are, quoting yourself, in as pompous a post the blogosphere has ever seen.

    Dell will figure out for itself the most effective communication channels for improving its customer service – and a blog might be one of them. It might not. But it sure as hell doesn’t need to pander to you.

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  • Anang Phatak

    Jeff,
    I purchased the Dell Studio 1737 last month and received the system a couple weeks back. Its a “brand new” laptop, and its hardly used (I commute to work between states).

    As soon as I started using the laptop, I noticed that the touchpad was “jumpy”. Yesterday however, it was completely erratic. I called the technical support yesterday, and reported “touchpad moves too fast as time, and on other occasions it doesn’t budge”. The support rep. determined that this is a faulty hardware, as the touchpad behaves erratically [more] when connected to power-adapter.

    Since then it has been an uphill battle with the customer service. I have been on the phone call for over 3 hours and 15 minutes. This excludes the time spent in diagnosing the problem. I was transfered from “technical service” to “customer service” for at least 5 to 6 times.

    Meanwhile, I was also pitched “extended warranty” and “personalized service” for an “extra charge”. I really don’t think, I should have to pay more on “peripherals” like these, on a brand new system.

    Here’s the kicker….”if the system you have purchased is older than 21 days from the date of invoice” it cannot be replaced…. and thats in the fine print.

    They took 2 weeks to ship it to me. So I have about 7 days to decide ???

    I have spent over 1200$ in buying this laptop. I really don’t want a “refurbished” system for that kind of money. I would ideally like to get fully refunded or fully replace my machine….. do you have any advice on how I should tackle this problem ?

    Thanks & Regards,
    AAP

  • Angel Hena

    Jeff Jarvis and Steve Rubel is right they can announce their official day. He should be going right way. I think your feedback is wrong way you need to understand why they do this.Special needs Children