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Irate customers? Don’t let them stew. Check out how Dell approached it’s Customer Advisory Panel July 27, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Customer Advisory Boards.
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A friend of mine just passed me a link to this great blog post on Dell’s recent Customer Advisory Panel meeting.  There are a couple of things that are noteworthy here:

* Talking with angry customers can be a challenge for anyone.  Human nature inclines us to seek shelter in friendly surroundings.  But, as Dell found out, avoiding irate customers and letting customers stew in disappointment and frustration can be bad for business.  They chose to meet the challenge head-on with a Customer Advisory Panel.  How they did this was very creative: two groups of bloggers/customers, divided based on their affinity towards Dell.  Each discussion moderated by a “graphical facilitator” who captured comments and feedback graphically.  Check out the pictures.

* Graphical facilitators are superstars when it comes to capturing notes and turning them into instant illustrations that communicate with a punch.  It’s an engaging technique that can be used to create an aura of creativity and fun, despite the obvious tension that commonly accompanies dissatisfied customers.  While this technique will not work for all audiences, it seems to have worked well for Dell based on the photos shared in one of the accompanying links.

* What impresses me most about Dell is that they opened their kimono to use the Customer Advisory Panel as 1) an opportunity to collect customer feedback AND 2) as a public relations platform.  Notice that several of the bloggers have already posted comments relating to the event.  It’s a PR/Customer Support strategy that makes a whole lot of sense in today’s social media world.

As Susan Payton says in her blog, the proof of Dell’s actions will be in what they do with the information they’ve collected.  While I’m sure this was not an easy pill for the leaders at Dell to swallow , I applaud them for taking action, and frankly the risk.  We live in a world where the customer is king, and Dell is taking note.

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