How Dell Has Reinvented Itself Thanks To Social Media

15 May

After last week’s post about the biggest Social Media Campaign Fails of 2012 (so far), I thought it would be a good idea to look at a company who has managed to use social media in the best way possible and have transformed their image and reputation as a result.

Social Media, Inspired by Dell

Dell is, without a doubt, a “darling” when it comes to social media industry case studies. Why? They are one of the first real “rags to riches” story that bridges several market segments including consumer, enterprise, SMB and healthcare; and they offer an industry-leading example of “listening” to their customers in social media channels, from blogs to Twitter. And perhaps even more compelling is Dell’s approach to managing the oceans of new information that they uncover on a daily basis — everything from support requests and product feedback to complaints and high-level topic discussions.

It all started with “Dell Hell”

In 2005, Dell’s customer service and support was apparently not what it is today. Combine the subsequent low-levels of customer satisfaction along with the rapid adoption of social media (which gives you the ability to spread discontent very far, very quickly), and you have the beginnings of a major brand backlash.

That’s exactly what happened with the now famous social media firestorm of “Dell Hell”, where Jeff Jarvis, (a blogger who had clout before Klout was even an idea), posted a rant on his “Buzz Machine” blog titled “Dell lies. Dell sucks.” This post ignited a customer revolt (which involved most of the comments on Jeff’s post being similar stories from other customers) which ended up changing much of the culture and customer service practices at one of the world’s most venerable technology companies.

How Dell Weathered The Storm

Dell ultimately weathered the storm thanks to Michael Dell, who recognized the importance of social media (both the risks and the opportunities), and got personally involved. One of the first moves Michael Dell made was was to create a dedicated corporate blogger that would span functional groups. Lionel Menchaca was nominated for the new position, who found immediate success dealing with Jeff Jarvis and other connected bloggers by speaking “honestly and directly”, effectively giving the company a human voice.

But Menchaca and his team did a lot more than just manage blogger outreach – They started a “listening and responding” program, for customer service and support, community-building and topic discussions with subject matter experts. When the small team finally hit the “on” switch for their listening platforms, four to five thousand conversations about Dell started landing in their lap every single day!

Dell’s “Listening Czar”

They ended up creating a new position called Dell’s “Listening Czar”, which became one of the most important components of their social media programme. The Czar was the overall integration lead for all of Dell’s social media functions, from their support forums to Ideastorm, and led a mix of resources to segment out conversations for different business functions.

Additionally, the Czar monitored a customized social media dashboard to identify trends and emerging issues. If a given threshold is reached, for example, if there are a lot of people talking or asking about a certain issue, a blog post on Direct2Dell was initiated.

Today: World-Class Listening through the “Command Centre”

Dell have recently expanded their programme even further by launching their Social Media Listening Command Centre, a social media hub focused purely on listening, engaging and responding to all-things-Dell in more than 11 languages and the Social Outreach Services (SOS) team has grown from 10 to 70 people over the past 2 years.

Dell’s Radian6 monitoring and management tools record an average of 20k – 25k social media events for the company each day, and they make a point of engaging wherever appropriate as quickly as possible. Most tweets, Facebook posts and the like receive some kind of response in no more than 24 hours, and many are handled in real-time.

In case you are a Dell customer, social media support is available to you via Twitter (@DellCares), Facebook (click the “Support” Button under the Cover Photo) and via Dell’s website by clicking “Support” on each web page.

In just a few years, Dell went from a serious brand backlash to leading the social media bunch; especially when it comes to effectively listening and responding to an ocean of customer conversations. By doing so, Dell has become a great example of how to integrate social media into an organisation.


6 Responses to “How Dell Has Reinvented Itself Thanks To Social Media”

  1. richardatdell May 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    And we continue to work hard to embed the use of social media across our businesses with a view to further strengthening customer connections using the Web….it is a continuing journey :-). You can learn even more at

  2. richardatdell May 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    And we continue to work hard to embed social media use across our businesses with a view to further strengthening customer connections using the Web….it is a continuing journey :-). You can learn even more at

  3. Ewen Bell May 28, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    Dell Hell seems to live on in the Australian market, at for the customers. Am curious to see how the changes in the US might eventually flow through to other regions. Am thinking that Dell Hell was the result of a top down problem however.


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