Dell Heaven?

At our interesting Dell session at the Social Media Leadership Forum last week, the Dell team inevitably referenced the famous ‘Dell Hell’ example.

Stuart Handley, director of communications for Dell, wisely pointed out that the incident where Jeff Jarvis had blogged aggressively about Dell’s customer service could have been a lot worse if it had happened now. As social media is maturing quickly.

Dell used criticism then to radically reinvent their communications approach in the networked age. Now they are leaders, and are reaping the benefits in terms of closer relations with their customers.

After Stuart’s talk, I went back to Jeff Jarvis to see what he thought were the main lessons of that episode. In his book he talks about how he attacked Dell through his blog, and why, and says this is the primary lesson:

‘Though we in business have said for years that the customer knows best and that the customer is boss, now we have to mean it. The customer is in control. If the customer isn’t in control, there’ll be hell to pay.’

How many companies today, this week or this month, will go through their ‘Dell Hell’ because they are locked in an industrial model of communications and have failed to embrace the new more nimble and agile networked age?

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