Dell's Three-Pronged Approach to Social Media

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Aware of the growing reach and impact of social media, Dell wanted to find novel ways to engage its customers online, through the social channels that customers and prospects are already using. In December 2010 the company launched a Social Media Listening Command Center at its Round Rock, TX, headquarters. The role of the command center is to track mentions of Dell via social media, analyze sentiment, and act when there's a problem.

Customers are communicating with their favorite brands in an ever-increasing number of ways; along with phone calls and emails, today's customers are increasingly using social media channels not only to follow and interact with companies they're interested in, but also to share their experiences with these organizations. Aware of the growing reach and impact of social media, Dell wanted to find novel ways to engage its customers online, through the social channels that customers and prospects are already using. Dell encourages its customers to share ideas for new products and suggest ways to improve existing ones on Dell's IdeaStorm online community, for example.

However, the high-tech behemoth recognized that its customers also wanted to be listened to in other ways. With this in mind, the company launched a Social Media Listening Command Center at its Round Rock, TX, headquarters in December 2010. The role of the command center is to track mentions of Dell via social media, analyze sentiment, and act when there's a problem. While its role stops with monitoring, the command center connects customers who need assistance directly with the experts best equipped to help them.

As with most any business, Dell customers interact with the company for a variety of reasons. So, Dell has broken down its listening program into three different components to better meet customers' expectations for social interactions. Maribel Sierra, Dell's director of global social media and communities, explains that the first two give Dell valuable information that it can use to address problems, as well as improve its products and provide fodder for new ones.

  1. Customers seeking help: There are instances where individual customers are asking for assistance, as well as a number of customers individually contacting Dell about what are actually systematic issues that need to be addressed.
  2. People who want to share ideas: Some customers have ideas that they want to share with Dell, whether directly through the company's Facebook wall or Dell's IdeaStorm website, or indirectly through independent blogs.
  3. Reinforcing success: The third group of customers is delighted with the brand and products and comment positively about different features. Sierra describes this as important reaffirmation that the company is doing its job. "[Dell] thanks them for the shout out and for being our fans," she says.

The real-time data provided by Dell's customers is giving the company priceless information about customers' needs and sentiment. Sierra explains that rather than having to wait for survey results, the company has immediate access to customer feedback that Dell can then act on as appropriate.

Read more about Dell's Social Media Listening Command Center in the latest issue of Customer Strategist, the executive journal of Peppers & Rogers Group.

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