Dell’s progress

Ad Age writes about the post-Dell-hell progress the company has made in involving its customers in its business, noting my softening and even admiration for their learning.

“You can’t do digital media from one group with one point of view on the world,” said Bob Pearson, VP-corporate group communications at Dell. “It just doesn’t work. In fact, that’s too marketing-oriented. There’s a big difference between pushing your story out vs. becoming relevant in customers’ conversations.”

Mr. Pearson said that the community aspect of IdeaStorm, which allows users to vote ideas up or down and post comments, gives the company depth of insight into its customers’ priorities and allows it to listen for a long period of time. “With the average focus group, you go in for an hour or two, give them some sandwiches and leave. We may be listening to conversation going on over two months. It’s a totally different game.”

I’m hoping to write a story about the Dell saga for a magazine I’ll name later and to interview Dell for it.

I still get comments and emails to this day from people with sad sagas about Dell. The company can’t and haven’t solve their problems overnight. I have no way to judge the success of their efforts to fix their customer service and product issues. So I won’t try to. But I can look at how they’ve tried to change their relationship with the public via IdeaStorm and blogging and a change in the corporate cant at the top of the firm. And I’d like to know how much of a difference that is making.

So please leave comments on how successful you think Dell’s change of heart and mind has been. Has it made a difference in how you think of the company? Would it make a difference in your decisions on doing business with the company? (I’d appreciate it if you’d give me your name for quoting.)

: Also, I’m a month late linking to Lionel Menchaca’s post about the origins of the blog:

Since we launched Direct2Dell last year, one of the common questions I get from folks who want to talk to me is this: “Did Dell start this blog because of Jeff Jarvis?” I get that question even more since we sat down over drinks for a chat with the man himself. The real answer is that he was part of the reason, but more importantly, he was a sign of a bigger problem for Dell. Jeff’s situation was an indicator that our customer service for home users in the United States needed to improve drastically. Many people here at Dell understand that, and we know that we still have quite a ways to go.

  • http://badideaindeed.wordpress.com/ Philippe

    I hate a quiet surprizing (and funny) experience with Dell lately. I posted on my blog the copy of a mail sent by one of my colleagues. He was compaining about his problems with the HP customer service. Since I’m very imaginative, I called this post HP Hell ;)

    I received in the comments a very quick reaction from… a Dell representative, who tried to help us out the HP maze.

    The post (and the comment from Dell) is here: http://badideaindeed.wordpress.com/2007/05/23/hp-hell/

    My conclusion is that Dell understood that everyone is a customer and my colleague ordered a brand new Dell.

  • http://oldgrouch.mee.nu Old Grouch

    Saw an article in the Wall Street Journal a month or so back (sorry, no link) which quoted some analyist who was disappointed with Dell’s recent profitiblilty and blamed the lower margins on, among other things, Dell spending more on improving customer service.

    Which led to me throwing the paper across the room with shouts of, “They just don’t get it!”

  • James

    Sony’s also opening up with their Playstation 3 blog – http://blog.us.playstation.com/2007/06/11/welcome-you%e2%80%99ve-been-waiting/ which has comments enabled.

  • http://www.wjlockardphotography.com William J Lockard

    I need serious help. I bought a Dell Inspiron 5150 back nearly 2 months ago now and have yet to get a working machine. From the very beginning I’ve had serious issues with it and have been making phone calls and sending emails and am getting absolutely nowhere and so frustrated that I just want to return this computer and buy one from HP. I can’t take this aggrivation anymore and have lost around 20 customers and roughly $45,000 in annual business since these problems began. I can’t take it anymore and have got to have resolution immediately or I might as well shut my doors for good. If I lose anymore customers I’m out of business.

    Activities with Tech Support:
    Uninstalled McAfee
    Reinstalled Vista (was not told I’d lose all installed programs btw)
    Ran full diagnosis 7 times with both US and UK tech support

    I have various other emails and contacts but the meat of the story is below:

    Finally escalated to customer support after Tech Support gave up. Ms Vinishaa Parthipan promised to email me to get an address to which she’d be sending the new system. This was Thursday May 31. By noon the next day, I’d still not heard from her. Tried to call customer support and was told I was absolutely not allowed to speak to a customer support manager by some rude switchboard employee. Explained to him how upset I was and how his behavior was making the situation much worse. He replied, “I really don’t care. You’re not going to speak to a customer service manager. You can speak to Tech support.” I explained to him that i’d already spoken to tech support a dozen times and they could no longer help me. Their words. Not mine. And they’d transferred me to customer service. I finally got Tony’s supervisor on the phone who said he’d transfer me since I’d already spoken to them once. Then I got disconnected.
    Finally contacted by Vinishaa Parthipan Customer Relations UKIRE late on the 1st and asked for an address for a new system to be sent to. I emailed back immediately asking for an estimated delivery date.

    I was told that it’d be 10-15 working days before I could get a new system with XP instead of Vista. Informed her that I was losing business daily and really needed it sooner. She committed to 7-8 working days and would confirm a delivery date soon. On the following Monday, she’d still not put the order in and said she’d get to it on Tuesday. As of today (6-13-07) I’ve not received the PC or even a delivery date. Ms Parthipan has no business in customer service and in my opinion should be fired. She’s ignored every email I’ve sent in days. Has NOT followed through on her promises. Has not delivered what she said she would and I’m convinced she didn’t even put through the order like she said. I informed her that I approve the purchase orders for the worlds 3rd largest engineering firm’s computers and up until this point all of them were purchased through Dell. I’ve now cancelled many of them and directed them to be purchased through HP. She apparently didn’t care that her attitude and rudeness is losing business now for Dell like Dell has for me. I’ve lost over 20 customers for my photography/graphics business because I couldn’t deliver on my contracts without a working machine. I can’t take this anymore. All I wanted was a working machine. She promised to get me the same laptop with Windows XP instead of Vista. All I asked was to get it in a timely manner. I’ve done everything I was asked to do and am now being ignored and I don’t understand. This was the 2nd machine I’d bought from dell and after this will probably be the last for me and for the corporation I work my day job for.

    I will also be posting this to several blogs and to my website along with Shaw’s intranet and a global email throughout the companies 35,000 or so employees if this isn’t resolved within the next 48 hours. I’ve been poorly treated, lied to, jerked around, hung up on and am thoroughly disgusted by this entire experience. I literally cannot take anymore. I was even getting late charges because I’d financed through Dell and hadn’t made a payment yet because I didn’t have a working machine. Fortunately they were the one group willing to work with me and understand. Please ya’ll I need help. I just want this resolved one way or the other and it MUST be resolved immediately or I’m finished. This business was to be my retirement and if I lose the customers I have left…well I’ll have no choice but to join the NY State Attorney General because it’s all I have left. Don’t let them ruin me.

  • Dr. Charles R. Hill, Ph.D.

    Dr. Hill says: This is a new experience for me, and the last with DELL.
    After my experience with Dell and trying to deal with their pathetic excuse of a service department in the Philippines, and even worse in the U.S., that directly resulted in the shattered dreams of a student I mentored. She was accepted to the Les Roches Swiss School of Hotel Management against all odds that she would even be able to attend, and then failed courses and may have lost that dream to continue because Dell DID NOT HONOR the service agreement or warranties without going through a hellish nightmare. Four weeks later, and still no computer, the student finished her finals on June 12th, 2007 with no DELL computer, that was damaged after 5 months of use. Only one person at Dell could give a damn even after explaining the situation of the importance to the replacement of the computer that was so called for in the agreement.
    So, now that the student who had all odds put against her to even being able to attend the college of her choice, in addition to losing her father at age 7 to cancer, home schooling herself through 4 years of high school in a 1 1/2 years, having gone to college to learn French, German and computer science while working full time and having to take out a loan of $21,000 because her education trust was refused her by her uncle because he didn’t agree with her choice of school, she fails as a direct result of DELL and their “so what” attitude.
    When a corporation becomes so large that the CEO, Michael Dell, and all of the other top managwement forgets who pays their checks and stock dividends, they should have a wake up call! But I believe first they should be given a chance to rectify their screwups so I will wait to hear from Dell representatives. Because, if not the student, but I, am not satisified with the results in the restitution Dell forwards they will experience a new meaning to the power of the pen and international media. This detailed story will be reaching 1200 colleges and universities around the world with the ear of approximately 12 million students, give or take 500,000 or so, as well as 70 million college bound student parents. Perhaps then it will be enough wake up call to get your attention. So congratulations Dell, you’re on a roll!

  • http://pr.typepad.com John Cass

    Jeff, is that post from Dr. Charles R. Hill real? would you email the fellow and see if the email bounces? Just seemed a little fishy to me.

  • FormerDellManager

    That dummy lockard should have been smart enoough to go buy another 800 dollar computer at best buy rather than let $45,000 in business slip away. Shut down for good because one computer is down? Give me a break.

  • Jason
  • David Marshall

    Hello Jeff,

    I have posted a couple of comments on earlier Dell topics that you have shared and I wanted to let you know that I would enjoy providing you with some good and positive input regarding changes that I have seen in Dell over the past 18 months. Let me know and I would be happy to send you and email with more than I am sure you would want posted here. I will share briefly here.

    After experiencing several months of difficulties with my own purchase, I began a thread on the Dell Community Forum last July regarding a gaming machine that had some “issues” surrounding it. I then began to develop relationships with hundreds of Dell customers via Private Messaging, email, and phone, hoping to generate a “voice” that Dell would listen to. To date nearly 15,000 responses have been shared on Dell’s forum, and I am in regular contact with some 250 customers. Although I have made a considerable investment both financially and time-wise, I believe that it has been worth it, as I have had the privilege of not only helping fellow customers, but have also gotten to observe first hand, Dell providing customers with assistance.

    Dell has done some amazing things in response and it has been very encouraging to see so many customers have their loyalty to Dell rekindled. As I shared with you before, I have met with a number of Dell leaders and have witnessed genuine humility, with a desire to not only “listen” to its customers but to “fix” things as well. I am so convinced that Dell desires to be responsive to criticism, and is moving in the right direction, that often, when I see a disgruntled customer, I will contact them, and share a positive experience and try to get them pointed to a place where I know that resolution can be found.

    As a customer, I have shared a number of ideas with Dell, and then have witnessed how customer-generated suggestions have become a reality in how Dell relates to and cares for its customers. It really is not an easy task for any large corporation to effectively listen to all that customers are sharing, but guys like Dell’s media manager, Lionel Menchaca, are burning the midnight oil trying to make it happen.

    Obviously a corporation needs to concern itself with profit, but what I have observed is that Michael Dell personally, and his leadership, aren’t just saying the words, “We care”; they really do care about the folks that buy Dell products. What I have seen Dell do for customers has literally stopped people in their tracks with the comment, “That is amazing!” upon hearing the story of how Dell took care of its XPS customers.

    I continue to hear criticism and get requests for help, but that is a necessary ingredient for healthy growth, but not a day goes by anymore where I don’t see or hear a customer share something positive about their Dell experience.

    You asked if anyone has seen a change of heart. I have. In fact, about 10 months ago, I had a good blogging friend contact you with my story, because back then I was not so positive!! Dell was wrong and I thought I was going to make your episode look like “Dell Heaven”. Thankfully you declined to run with my story, and I am glad you did. I can honestly say that I am now proud to be a Dell customer! The change that I have seen at Dell has changed my heart as well. Just ask my wife!

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  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/02/25/social-media-saga-continues-as-company-advances-towards-dell-swell/http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/02/25/social-media-saga-continues-as-company-ad Jeremiah Owyang

    Yes, has my attitude about Dell changed for the better. Dell has become the case study of social media success. They’ come nearly full circle in their saga, which I’ve been tracking as you’ve been.

    http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/02/25/social-media-saga-continues-as-company-advances-towards-dell-swell/

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/02/25/social-media-saga-continues-as-company-advances-towards-dell-swell/http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/02/25/social-media-saga-continues-as-company-ad Jeremiah Owyang

    Oh yeah, At the Social Media Workshop last week, nearly all of the speakers Shel Israel, Brian Solis, Chris Heuer and myself referred to Dell as a company that “gets it”. While they still make mistakes (like the consumerist thing) it’s a work in progress.

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  • http://www.more-than-life-itself.com Diane S

    I bought a top-of-the-line Dell desktop in 2003 – and all was well – at first…
    Having bought the top in-home warranty due to the fact that I am a disabled senior, when I first had problems with my motherboard Ethernet card after a hurricane and disrupted power for a week, the board was replaced in my home by a tech who could not get the system working again.. in spite of a total disk format and re-build – and told me that the disk was ‘corrupt’ and there was nothing he could do.
    Well, after he left, I used a new Windows ME disk and brought the system up – Dell never inquired as to whether I had a working system.
    It was about Nov 2006 that I began noticing supple problems with my PC again – programs that would not open – Windows NetFrame – updates would not update – and so on… finally, I went to Dell on-line chat, ‘chatted’ with a tech named ‘Sheena’ who admitted she was in India, and she gave me several drivers to download and assured me all would be working when I finished. Well, she did not say so, but after each update I rebooted just to make sure each driver was working, and all seemed O.K. Until the final reboot when there were so many problems I cannot even remember them all – and I am not senile. It seemed I had no option but to reboot to an earlier date, and eventually I was back where I started BEFORE the chat!
    Following this sequence I had some delicate dental surgery and difficulty recuperating, so never pursued the above problem, not having the energy to go through the 1 wpm and scripting from the out-sources tech support.
    It was 11 days after an electric storm, during which I pulled the cable out of the wall and after no cable service due to a HUGE Comcast grid breakdown, although we did NOT lose power, when I tried to go on-line I realized the Ethernet board was again not working – so I connected with USB and went to dell on-line chat. I will not go into details but unwittingly I had entered DELL HELL!
    Oh my!! I don’t like to use that kind of language, but I cannot believe all that has happened… they are now offering me a refurbished motherboard for $189 – 3x what they cost from vendors – and they will install because I renewed my in-home warranty as my health is not any better, nor will it ever be… but I don’t think I should have to pay anything for this motherboard although they are blaming the storm. I think that if it was the storm it would have blown out more than the Ethernet card! plus, how can it blow out anything but the cable is unhooked and the surge protector still working. Dell has told me to collect from my household insurance ($500 deductible), or the surge protector (it is still working on all hookups), or Comcast! Right!! They are bigger than Dell and care even less! Plus, if not hooked up, how are they liable (they did replace modems downstairs but the one in the office was still working).
    As I have said, I am not well, and now Dell has my BP so high I am having problems and now must see my doctor next week – I should have gone sooner but just have not had the energy since trying to work with Dell has sapped it all.
    I just want them to replace the motherboard that was failing before the storm – I know its not safe surfing without MS updates but I have no choice as I do research for myself and others, and have a website that has to be maintained…
    “James” has taken over my case and will not budge – I have filed a complaint with the Texas BBB and am now going to file one with the Texas Attorney General’s office!
    When I googled Dell customer complaints I got 2,170,00 hits! Some old, some new, but all disturbing! I will be in the market for a new P.C. sometime the spring and it will NOT be DELL – I do not speak Hindu or whatever… nor will I learn – I am too old for that!
    Sorry but, in my opinion, Dell’s customer service is as bad, if not worse, than ever!
    Diane S

  • http://www.john-poignand.com JOHN Poignand

    This is a comment on stupidity in Dell Marketing.
    My sister inlaw recently purchased a Dell Mini from QVC. She simply wanted to use it for Internet work. It came with disks but no disc drives. The internet svc also sent a disk. No one told her that this mini required an external disc drive. She sent it back. I can’t imagine how many customers of yours experience the same problem. These are naive users who get turned off from you. I’m certain that this is not what you intend to do with the thousands of QVC buyers. You should immediately instruct QVC and other sellers of the requirement to purchase the external drive, otherwise you’ll loose sales and in this environment, that’s the last thing you need.

    I note that it is not possible to send this directly to Dells Mkt vp.

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  • http://www.emailtargetmarketing.org Yuk Labreque

    Innocent until proven drunk! I adore The Sheen Man. How do you think he is dealing with the Rich, fameous and married? I genuinely can’t comprehend how hollywood get caught .