around the blogosphere : 10-31
around the blogosphere : 11-01

how would you tell your customers that they matter?

NOTE: this is more than another "I Love Dell" Story

Impressions_water Everyone is applauding Dell for trolling the blogosphere for negative feedback.  But the far better story is their 180 degree customer-first service turnaround.  The key here is this: Dell isn't solving problems, they are creating positive impressions by generating positive experiences.

Trolling the blogosphere is like thanking a burglar for only stealing your television but leaving the stereo system. It's reactive marketing. Customer support needs to be as proactive and delightful as possible.

  • Customers are paying for your product.  Customers expect not to face any problems.  There often are problems, and even if the user is at fault, brands need to create a positive user experience. 
  • Re-active blogger outreach and response is a negative PR/brand equity stop gap, not a solution. 
  • Active branding and successful marketing require more than satisfaction, they deliver delight.  And delight can only occur if the customer feels valued.

How do you know if a brand really cares about their customers?

Visit their websites.  Where is the contact form?  Where is the contact phone number?  How long does the average user have wait on hold before getting through to customer service via online chat or a phone call?  Is your customer service representative empowered with the ability to deliver timely and satisfactory resolutions to potential issues?

Jeff Jarvis wrote a fantastic article in last week's Business Week outlining Dell's customer service turnaround.  Michael Parekh recently posted about his own experience with Dell.  While Dell has come a long way, it still took a blog post from an influential blogger to get an executive response and a timely solution. Dell's customer support wanted to help, but their internal system was crippling their support personnel.  And this is coming from a market leader.

Dell_4Nevertheless, DELL WILL SUCCEED BECAUSE THEY COMMUNICATE THAT THEY CARE! Dell's website prominently features Support & Help with the same equal prominence as their products.  This makes a clear statement: customer support is an integral part the Dell product. 

This alone would be reason enough to buy a Dell - even if I haven't had YEARS of horrible experiences with HP.


KEY TAKEAWAY: Too many companies are looking at the shiny object that is social media, viral PR, positive buzz and blogger outreach without reconsidering the basics.  New Media isn't about what's new, it's about doing everything that you should have been doing all along, and doing it better than ever before.  Don't just say that you care, market that care.  Feature that sentiment throughout your product marketing, be it the product, promotions, messaging, design or sales.  Dell will succeed not because they are minimizing negative buzz, but because their service and support is a featured part of their product offering.  Computers are frustrating. Dell sells more than a machine, they sell ease of use and peace of mind.