From Hell to Heaven?

Remember Dell Hell? Jeff Jarvis used the BuzzMachine to slam Dell for his horrific customer experience buying a laptop two years ago. This series of posts epitomized growing dissent against the company, and served as a channel to punish the Texas computer maker for bad products and customer service experiences.

A lot has changed since then:


The Dell community has become a strong one. The company has listened to us, and participated transparently, honestly and openly — going so far as to put one of its exploded laptops on its blog to admit, yes, there is a problem (caused by the battery manufacturer). They even let us tell them what to do on IdeaStorm.

The company has done a lot to turn its brand around. And it is working. Is Dell perfect? No. I think their social media pros Lionel and Richard would be the first ones to tell you that. But they are part of the conversation, and they are actively serving the community. We actually do have a direct and very open line to Dell.

The result? Much better relationships throughout the social media world. And the leading voice of computer manufacturers in social media environments. Goodwill is abound for Dell these days, and rare is the mention of Dell Hell. Some competitors are opening up and blogging.

The take away for us as individuals trying to maintain our brands is that by listening, changing and participating we can survive bad experiences out here in the social media world. But the key is to listen (are you reading this, Scoble?), let people comment and provide input, and then create products, posts etc. I think that’s really been they key to Dell’s brand turnaround success. Coke had a similar experience as it went from indigestion on Mentos (bad) to Virtual Thirst in Second Life (good).

Tomorrow , Jarvis is expected to report on Dell, and discuss the progress they’ve made. While no one knows what the report will say, it is conceivable that Dell has literally gone from Hell to Heaven. Regardless, they’ve provided a powerful example of listening and change.

Updated, 10/18 at 6:50 p.m.

The story broke, and Jarvis did indeed say that Dell has repaired its tarnished image. Read the BusinessWeek article on Dell learning to listen.

9 Replies to “From Hell to Heaven?”

  1. My IT advisor at IT360 (Peoria, IL) told me Dell is making good computers again, but I bought an HP Pavilion the other day. But I’m excited to hear about a major company using socnets to leverage online reputation and to interact with users.

    Thanks for this report.

  2. Hey Geoff,
    I hope you are right about the changes in Dell. I read everything I could find about the Company and a Product I was interested in and made a decision and purchase online from Dell.
    I’ll let you know how it all works out. ;-)

  3. Hi Joe, hope you will let us know how it all works out to because we are listening learning and moving forward to be better because of it.

    Vaspers, thrilled your IT advisor has that perspective on our quality. Thanks for letting us know that perspectives and assessments are getting back to where we want to be and grow from.

    Geoff, you are right….we are only just started but we are working hard to have the customer walk our halls with us and listen hard and communicate to really nurture relationships with us and our brand. Appreciate the “third party” perspective.

  4. I bought a Dell today and the hard drive failed on the first boot up. Called there tech support and got a person that only gave canned responces. After 30 min. on the phone the guy tell me he could not help me and gave me another number to call . I called and they said it was maybe the hard drive. I needed to buy a hard drive and have it there when the tech got to my home. I told them I just bought the Dell to hours ago many times. After repeating myself 5 times they said I need to return it to Best Buy were I bought it and go right to the geek squad desk for repair. Hell I bought a new machine and you would think it would at least boot one time. After that I got on there chat and was told more or less the same thing. I told the chat guy It was there problem and not Best Buy’s . I was told that Best Buys told me about a contract between the two about tech support . My only comment was and I repeated myself was I bought a Dell new and they need to replace it or come to my house and fix it free since I would have to drive over a hundred miles for repair……Tim from Ohio In Dell Hell

  5. Tim,

    My name is Mike, I’m a Technical Analyst at Dell corporate headquarters in Round Rock, TX. I’m part of an internet outreach team developed to interact with the online community regarding technical questions and issues that customers face with Dell products. I read your comment about your purchase at Best Buy and wanted to offer some quick clarification.

    I’m sorry to hear about the failure, I was in a similar situation with an external hard drive so I can definitely understand your position. I know it can get confusing when talking to a number of different representatives and departments, so I’ll just link you straight to the FAQ on our site regarding Best Buy.

    Refer to the question: Who can I contact if I need technical support? It should be able to clear up any confusion about your situation. Given that the system failed to boot right out of the box, Best Buy should be able to give you a quick exchange. I would also recommend asking them to start up the system to make sure everything is working before leaving the store, just to be on the safe side.

    Again, I apologize for the situation and the ensuing frustration, but Best Buy will be the quickest and most efficient method for getting this taken care of for you. I hope this information is helpful.

    Thank you,

    Dell customer advocate

  6. I sympathize with Dell. They cannot control how Best Buy treats customers. I happen to love Best Buy and have zero complaints. I took a Yamaha synthesizer back, which out of the box did not “boot up” (turn on). Best Buy took my word for it, didn’t even try to turn it on to check my story, and promptly issued me a refund in cash.

    A national guitar chain argues, and issues a check on an out of state bank, as a reluctant, unsmiling refund.

    Best Buy should have refunded your money immediately, or replaced the machine. That’s how they treated me anyway.

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