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.