yellow card issued in jarvis v dell redux

Dell bashing has to be one of Jeff Jarvis’s favourite pastimes. Last year he raised and led an army of bloggers to amplify his complaints about the company’s customer service. Now it seems that Dell has learned a lesson and made steps towards joining the conversation by starting their own blog.

Jarvis, unsurprisingly, thinks Dell’s effort misses the spot.

But let’s slow down a little. Dell didn’t do what most multinational computer manufacturers would do and ignore it, they actually responded with their own post both acknowledging and linking to Jarvis and others who had complained that the Dell blog was little more than a propoganda exercise.

Jarvis, however, couldn’t stop himself from telling Dell, again, that they are getting it wrong (see the comment Jarvis posted July 11, 2006 at 2:30 PM). He makes some good suggestions:

"Someone there should have the guts to deal head-on with the now-renowned customer service problem your company has. Be brave. Be direct. Be transparent. Blog about your hold time. About your customer service satisfaction ratings. About your return rate. About your reliability. Go out and quote the blogs that are writing about you every day and then answer their problems, concerns, and questions. Best yet: Ask your customers what we think you should be doing. That would get you respect. That would be a real conversation."

But didn’t Jarvis say previously, in his own post berating Dell for setting up a propaganda blog, that:

"Dell isn’t listening. And listening, once more, is the first step in blogging."

Maybe Jarvis needs to step back and realise that, as much as he might think Dell stinks, they actually seem to have just done what he said – they acknowledged and linked to his blog, they’re beginning to listen (as Hill and Knowlton already noticed). Sure, they didn’t go there, excerpt from his post, link back to it, wrap their own comments and editorial around it, move the conversation forward, gather outside information, etc etc. But they did acknowledge him and, as I said at the beginning of this post, most multi-national computer manufacturers simply wouldn’t have bothered.

I use a mac (like Jarvis) so I really couldn’t care less about Dell’s customer service. I do, however, think it’s important for brands to listen to their costumers and – likewise – for bloggers to weild their audiences responsibly. Last time round it was Dell 0, Jarvis 1. This time it looks like Jarvis has landed himself a yellow card in the first minutes…

(PS. to Dell: One2One was the brand name of the mobile telephone operator in the UK that is now T-Mobile. Feel free to send me the cheque you would have sent your trademark lawyer.)

[This post was originally published at approximately 5pm on Wed 12 July 2006 but typepad has had a bit of a blip so I’ve had to repost it from a draft.]