Keeping Your Audience Interested

This may sound like a simple enough concept but believe it or not many companies fail at this. A great example is the fiasco Dell went through a few years back when they provided poor customer service to a customer who turned out to be quite popular. That customer was blogger, among other things, Jeff Jarvis. I’m sure many of you know the story of Dell Hell, but if you don’t then I will give you a quick overview. If you want to know more details then visit the Dell Hell link to all see all of the blog posts Mr. Jarvis has posted on Dell.

The story starts when Mr. Jarvis bought a Dell notebook along with a four year in-home warranty. The notebook malfunctions and Mr. Jarvis contacts Dell to get someone to come fix his laptop but Dell decides not to honor his in-home warranty and has Mr. Jarvis send his notebook to them instead. He sends it in and they fix it and send it back but the notebook still overheats. Dell once again refuses to send someone to Mr. Jarvis’s house so Mr. Jarvis reacts, much unlike Dell, which you will see later on. Mr. Jarvis takes to the internet on his blog and posts about his bad experience with Dell only to find that many other people are having the same problems. Thanks to Mr. Jarvis, things like “Dell Sucks. Dell Lies.” became a viral message. Dell doesn’t react and instead forms the “look but don’t interact” blog policy, which essentially just means they were ignoring the customer completely. Dell customers start to wonder if Dell really cares about them and Dell’s reputation becomes threatened.

Still Dell ignores complaints from consumers and assume that the whole problem will just blow over. Then in July 2005 Dell closed it’s customer support forum to avoid more negative comments, thus cutting off communication with the customer. After a letter from Mr. Jarvis to Dell, and many months later, Dell realizes that their non-response strategy isn’t working. In July 2006 they came up with Direct2Dell site where they offer support and many other things for their customers, including IdeaStorm, where customers can post ideas for things they’d like to see on their dell. They even have a link on their blog roll to BuzzMachine, Jeff Jarvis’s blog.

As I’m sure you have learned, listening to your audience is one of the best ways to keep them around. In my next post I’m going to tell you about some tools, that you may not be using, that are very helpful in engaging your audience.

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4 responses to “Keeping Your Audience Interested

  1. I understand that a company wants to keep their audience interested in their product. However, your post seemed to talk about keeping a company interested in what their audience wants. Which those two thoughts kind of go hand in hand. Meaning a company now needs to work to keep their consumers interested in the company,so Dell made ideastorm. Which in turn made their audience interested in what Dell was up to.
    I hope that made sense

  2. Leslie Carlson

    Something that I believe many large corporations are failing to realize is that it is quite possible that their employees may not be the best brainstormers when it comes to new products or edits to existing ones. Sure, they pay certain individuals to constantly come up with new and creative ideas that will move their company along. What they are not taking advantage of, though, is the massive amount of consumers who could be just as helpful to the process. Dell IdeaStorm is an example of a corporation listening to it’s audience and using what they learn to better understand what their consumer wants and what products or ideas would sell well. It seems like a simple idea, I agree, as your audience are the ones that keep you afloat as a company. Some corporations, though, need to take the blind-fold off and realize that reaching out to your consumers can only HELP you. Even if you receive a large amount of negative comments, though it is an ego kill in the beginning, will only help you develop into a more successful company.

  3. Christopher Runyon

    I totally agree with Leslie in that some of the best ideas come from non-employees. It’s smart to have a place where people can share ideas and thoughts for improvements and concerns. They have to ready to react to the feedback, good or bad. Businesses need several different ways to communicate to people. I love the Dell Hell story. It always a stick-it-to-the-man type of feel. Talk about a learning experience and wake call!

  4. Pingback: Tips and Tricks on How to Spot a Fake « Chris Runyon’s Blog

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