Dell has become legendary for the way it engages with fans and customers. Though its initial introduction to online word of mouth was a little rough, only us marketing folks really talk about that anymore. What most people think of is how responsive and proactive the company is when it comes to talking with customers.

At our last Word of Mouth event, former Dell executive Caroline Dietz talked about how the company developed its engagement program, launched its IdeaStorm community and started identifying and supporting online fans.

A few of her big points:

  • Not all customers and conversations are the same. At Dell, conversations are separated into three buckets: customers who need support, people with suggestions and brand reputation (happy fans and customers).
  • Ask influencers and fans for feedback. A great way to start and engage in a conversation is to ask for feedback. Before Dell launched IdeaStorm, it reached out to 25 key online influencers and asked them to play around with the community and provide feedback. The company also invited these influencers to tell their networks about it — and over a weekend, it had more than 1,000 ideas on the site.
  • Don’t focus only on the negative. Much of Dell’s early engagement was on finding unhappy customers and working with them to fix their issues. That’s great, but in doing so, the company found itself overlooking all of the happy fans. So to engage them and help them share their voice, Dell started simple programs to thank them and customer-advisory panels to acknowledge them.

Watch Dietz’s case study.

P.S. If this sounds like how you think about marketing, you should be at the Word of Mouth Crash Course.

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4 responses to “Andy’s Answers: How Dell engages online fans and critics”

  1. @BillatDell says:

    I'm at 20:30 so far, and no mention of the Listening Czar. What gives? Just kidding. Great presentation, Caroline! We miss you.

  2. Caroline Dietz says:

    @BillatDell – I miss you guys too… you and the rest of the Dell social team are continuing to do such a great job! I think this clip might be from before the Listening Czar 😉

  3. andy_mcf says:

    Insightful post… Claiming credit helps change the WOM (word of mouth) dynamic. Focusing on strengths and victories also invigorates an entire ecosystem of employees, customers, and shareholders. More here…

  4. I really appreciate the conversation marketing approach that Dell uses.

    Although I'm mostly a Mac user, I am on a PC all day at work, and I have found Dell's support team to be better than anyone's.

    Their brand approach has been incredibly friendly, and they understand the value of every single customers opinion/view of them.

    I was trying to think of another company that follows this example, and other than a few such as Starbucks, REI, I can' think of any…

    Do any come to mind for you?

    Thanks for the great post!