Saturday, August 20, 2005

Subtracting Customers is Bad Math

Leave it up to my colleague Troy Brumley to give me an unexpected example of how contextual communications works (or fails to work) in the blog world.

He shared a post from Adrants about Dell’s resistance to bloggers and then connected that with a comment he heard in the morning drive to the office while listening to NPR.

Don’t you just love it when 1+1=5?

First to Dell’s resistance to the blog. Dell policy apparently is to ignore negative feedback that travels across the blogosphere. Well, Jeff Jarvis posted a negative Dell experience.

Jarvis recounts the trials and tribulations he went through to get Dell's customer service to come to his aide. They didn't and he wrote about it. People read about it. Lots of people but, apparently, not Dell. They have this hands-off approach to weblogs treating them as ignorable rantings of the few and the unimportant.
Instead of responding with polite and sensitive care, Jeff got ignored. Hell hath no fury … other bloggers picked up on this story … Adrants carried it. Net result a lot of unneeded bad publicity for Dell. I read it all and conclude I’d be better off with a ThinkPad or an HP instead of a Dell paperweight.

Next, enter Bill Clinton on drivetime NPR. He was explaining to college students how one of his long-time friends voted for Bush in the last election. A paraphrase of his comment:
No one in the Democratic Party was talking to me. I can’t vote for someone who isn’t talking to me."
Troy noted: “Jeff voted with his dollars and Clinton’s friend voted with his feet.”

How sweet it is.

Even the best companies and politicians forget that they must stay relevant to our concerns. They must understand the context from which our concerns arise. If they take the time and analyze what we’re telling them, they have a much better chance of connecting with us.

Lesson One: Stay connected to your customers, or enter Dell Hell.

Lesson Two: Use the blog aggregators to actively listen to what bloggers are saying and if it’s bad news, address it head on.

Lesson Three: Even bad news can become good news if you manage it properly.

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