Dell Computer To Respond To Bloggers' Complaints
The move appears to have been triggered by a series of "Dell Hell" posts penned by Jarvis about his problems with a Dell computer. Jarvis first wrote about the topic in June, and continued posting updates through the summer.
"Obviously, Mr. Jarvis' experience could've been handled better," Davis said.
As for other bloggers, Davis said that ideally, when customer service receives forwarded complaints from bloggers, representatives will approach them directly to diffuse the problem. "That's certainly what they're supposed to do," she said. "I can't comment that it happens 100 percent of the time, but that certainly is what the process is designed for." Jarvis, on his blog, said Dell contacted him only after he wrote a letter directly to Michael George, Dell's chief marketing officer.
Some marketing experts say Dell and other companies have little realistic choice other than to institute polices that address complaints posted on blogs and other consumer-generated forums.
"When someone like Jeff [Jarvis] is going on at length like that, you do more than just listen to it," said marketing consultant Steve Rubel. "It's like a cancer that has to be stopped--and people are going to start listening, and it's going to have an effect on your reputation."
While BuzzMachine frequently receives more than 5,000 visitors a day, one recent post--Jarvis' "open letter" last week to George and Chairman Michael Dell, excoriating the company for ignoring online criticism--was the third most linked-to post on the blogosphere on Thursday, according to Intelliseek's BlogPulse. The post was also either linked to or discussed by at least .01 percent of all blog posts written Wednesday, according to BlogPulse.
Davis added that Dell hopes that the improvements that the company has begun to initiate in its customer service department will also head off some of these issues. Starting in the fourth quarter of last year, Dell has opened more call centers and hired more staff, trained or hired more experts to resolve particularly technical issues, and reduced the manager-to-representative ratio at their call centers. Their online support has also been beefed up, Davis said, and a previously closed message board--the customer care board--has been recently reopened due to popular demand.
In addition, Davis said, the company has had long-standing relationships with online forums like PlanetFeedback.com to forward complaints from Dell customers.
Davis also said that Dell is "looking at the best way to respond" to Jarvis' last complaint, the "open letter" of Aug. 17. "What we want to do first and foremost is to make sure we're addressing his specific issue, and making sure that the system is working to his satisfaction," Davis said. "We'll also be glad to talk with him about the broader issues--we have not outreached as of yet, but we're looking at the best way to do so."