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Learning from the Past

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Jeff Jarvis asked a good question on our call this morning: “What has Dell learned from its interactions with blogs?”

Here’s his post on the topic. Wanted to close the loop on this because we’ve learned a lot. Our policy in the past may have been “look, don’t touch.” Today, it’s more like “listen, and join the conversation the right way.”

Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

1. Bloggers aren’t shy. They tell us what’s good, bad and ugly on just about everything. We listen and assess and incorporate good ideas into our business and products. Bloggers and other customers helped us refine our battery recall process to make it easier to understand and implement.

2. Customers blog about their customer service issues and it’s important to help them out. We find and help people every day with issues related to our products. Our Customer Advocate team—comprised of some of our best support team members—contacts these customers to solve their problems. You’ll meet some of these folks in a vlog next week. Our goal is to address all customer issues we can find.

3. It’s not just the blogosphere. While bloggers represent a large part of the conversation, it’s also important to listen to Internet forums, social networks, wikis, etc. We have to be able to listen and respond in all major languages, too. We’re currently monitoring in English and Spanish. Mandarin is next in line and our aim is to keep adding languages. These are big challenges, but it’s the only way we can address all customers’ issues.

4. Address tough issues head on. If you read Direct2Dell, you’ve seen several posts on customer service, the battery recall, product shipment issues, etc. It’s easier to open the discussion on negative issues than to join a blogstorm later.

5. Join the conversation via the most appropriate means available. We’ll use phone calls, e-mails, direct blog comments and face-to-face meetings—whatever makes sense. That’s why we hosted a visit from David Marshall to Dell. He spends a lot of time on the Dell Community Forum and commenting on Direct2Dell about XPS products. We spent a day with him to better understand his points of view. We learned a lot. I think he did, too. We plan to do more of that in the future.

6. There’s many conversations going on about Dell beyond support-related issues. We’ve begun entering those conversations on outside blogs and forums too. We’re just really getting started on this front, but we’re committed to entering those conversations in a bigger way moving forward.

Honesty and transparency are both essential in all online conversations. It may be obvious, but it’s the right thing to do. Today, we’d find Jeff Jarvis’ post on his issue with his Dell system quickly and would contact him directly to work things out.

Obviously, we can’t turn back the clock. What we can do is continue to improve and work on making our customers happy—whether they contact us directly, or blog about their experience. Maybe the most important thing we’ve learned is to acknowledge our mistakes from the past, and to do everything we can to prevent repeating them. Keep sending us your thoughts. Like I’ve said before, it’s the best way for us to improve.

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