Dell: A Case Study


Some people may think listening requires physical interaction. But such a belief neglects the assumption that listening may require more than physical presence. As Jesus suggests, sometimes we overlook “signs of the times.” [i] This lesson Dell needed to learn.

When Buzz Machine’s Jeff Jarvis blasted away with disparaging diatribes from a blog headline entitled “Dell-Hell,” Dell’s rude awakening forced the company to redefine “listening” in view of modern trends. Inflammatory invective ensued after an evening of struggles with Dell’s online customer support. The incident left Jarvis livid as he slammed Dell for its customer service shortcomings.

Dell: A Case Study - Jeff JarvisHis truculent tirade nearly tarnished Dell’s formerly untainted reputation. Who knew one cantankerous customer’s caustic comments sufficed to inflict such brand damage?

Though arguably not so reasonably foreseeable, Dell neglected a considerable customer base among contemporary consumers. By neglecting its internet demographic, Dell’s desultory decision proved nearly deleterious.

To panacea the problem, however, Dell learned that customer service constitutes a subset of branding—inextricably interwoven into reputation. Michael Dell, the company’s CEO conceded that he needed to re-adapt its image—transcending conventional notions of listening.

Thus, adapting meant expanding his definition of listening to encompass multiple fronts. This multifaceted approach to listening cultivates long-term customer value through various venues. Dell expanded its multi-faceted listening paradigm to include:

  • Internal customer training support that provides a social media certification program, namely, Dell Certified Social Media. Dell’s training ostensibly incorporates “10,000” employees interested in using social media who parse through approximately “25,000 conversations daily” about Dell—annually exceeding “6 million online conversations.” [ii]
  • Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN), which builds its brand by a community of advocates that “listens” to entrepreneurs and addresses women’s challenges—facilitating occupational opportunity.
  • A 360-degree marketing approach that engages the customer by “phone, social media, online digital strategy, traditional media, print advertising, and everything in between.” [iii]
  • Leveraging analytics as a resource to identify customer support needs and improve product development.

With its strong social internet presence, Dell now exercises a formidable force, holistically harnessing itself to listen on multiple fronts—maximizing long-term customer value by satisfying diverse interests.

[i] The Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV), Matthew 16:3.
[ii] Jennifer Rooney, “In Dell Social Media Journey, Lessons For Marketers About The Power Of Listening” p. 3.
[iii] See Id. at 3-4.

1 Comment
  1. Avatar of Michael Staib
    Michael Staib says

    Thank you, always, dearest Angie, for publishing my writings! Michael

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