Dell shouldn’t care about Jeff Jarvis

Treat every customer as if they sign your paycheck…because they do

The Dell Hell saga as reported by Jeff Jarvis is often held up as an example of the impact of Social Media on companies. Advocates of blogging say that companies should listen to what key influencers like Jeff Jarvis or Steve Rubel are saying about their products in order to identify problems and respond to them in a suitable fashion. A similar message seemed to be coming across at Les Blogs

So who cares what Jarvis and Rubel have to say about companies like Dell? Not me! I care what one hundred bloggers have to say rather than just a couple of key influentials.

It seems to me that we are repeating the mistakes of the past. Companies would ignore activists until the problem made the front pages of a national newspaper. Now all of a sudden we seem to be advocating ignoring what people with little influence complain about until the story gathers pace. In reality, companies should use tools like PubSub and Technorati to see what everyone is saying about them.

I’m not saying that they should respond to every single complaint, but they should track overall trends rather than focusing on key individuals.

In reality we give influencers far too much credit. If they were really that influential then whatever they had to say would hold weight. If that were the case then why isn’t Apple the dominant player when it comes to personal computers?

What really matters is the message. If that impacts upon people’s lives then it doesn’t matter who says it first, the message will still spread. The impact of influencers is that they help spread the message faster. So realistically you should be trying to spot problems before a message reaches an influencer.

The phrase ‘Markets are conversations’ is thrown around a lot. It’s worth remember that markets are not a conversation, so don’t focus on influencers, focus on the overall market – the conversations!

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4 Responses to “Dell shouldn’t care about Jeff Jarvis”  

  1. 1 Jeff Jarvis

    As I’ve written, beyond Dell’s relationship with me as a customer who returned a $2k purchase — which, in scale is a problem — no, I agree and have said that I was not an influencer. But when I told my story hundreds — the hundreds you’re looking for — commented and emailed and posted about and linked to my tale with tales of woe of their own. I found myself at the head of a mob with pitchforks and torches. I didn’t influence them or anything. But all it took was one consumer to tell this tale for hundreds to coalesce around it. And that was a leading indicator of the problems Dell is having, problems that came out shortly thereafter with falling customer satisfaction, sales, and share prices. Yes, my relationship with Dell is my issue with Dell. But the hundreds who responded to my tale with their own…. that’s Dell’s problem, big time.

  2. 2 Piaras

    I’m not saying that there isn’t a problem with Dell. I would agree that there is obviously an organisational problem there, which as you correctly point out has been highlighted by the hundreds (if not thousands) of people who had similiar problems.

    My problem is that when people use your story as an example they tend to highlight that in future we should monitor key online influencers to spot potential problems. You may not think that you were a key influencer in this case, but there seems to be a lot of people that think you are.

    We all have our individual relationships with organisations, but rather than focus on the individual we should look at the overarching relationship that society has with them instead.

    I total agree with your last sentence, it’s the fact that hundreds of people are having these problems with Dell that is the problem.

    There are millions of blogs out there and while it might be hard to monitor them for references of a company, espeicially when you’re dealing with a huge brand. I’d never advise anyone to focus on what A-listers are saying rather than looking at the wider picture. It’s the hundreds of people that matter.

    Forgeting blogs for a minute also, just because your brand is being run through the mud on blogs, that doesn’t mean that you have a problem. My experience of Dell Hell is with a company called DVDSoon. While there might not be that many bloggers complaining about them, all you have to do is a quick Google search to find forums full of complaints about them.

    I think a lot more thought needs to go into how companies are advised to identify and to respond to issues online.

  3. 3 Dr. Elinor Garely

    I have just entered Dell Hell..a destination I had no intention of ever visiting. I was sold a 1600n multifunction printer with the assurance it was network capable. To make a long story short, according to three Dell technicians the equipment is not network compatible and should not be sold as if it were. Now I am having problems in returning the merchandise. How do I get out of Dell Hell?

  4. 4 Piaras

    Unfortunately it seems like another case of Dell Hell

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Piaras Kelly
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