December 9, 2009

How Dell handles customer service and sales through social media

David SparkAt the Le Web conference in Paris, I spoke with Richard Binhammer, better known as @RichardATDell on Twitter. Three years ago Richard, who was and still is working in public affairs, was told by his boss to start getting engaged in blogger relations. It appears that Binhammer’s move into social media was one of the many responses to the 2005 Dell Hell outburst initiated by social media consultant Jeff Jarvis, who wrote an open letter to Dell complaining about Dell’s customer service. At the time, Dell’s response was, “We don’t respond to bloggers.”

It took this dramatic situation to shake Dell up, but they finally did respond a year later with a full social media presence that’s been valuable for customer service and promoting sales. Binhammer said that Dell’s use of Twitter is responsible for $6.5 million in sales worldwide.

In the video I gave Binhammer a little bit of a hard time regarding his minimal opinion on the HP situation I had that I published here before (“Why I love public transportation and hate HP” and HP’s response). Granted, I caught him off guard and didn’t tell him the full story, but I was looking for a more concrete answer to the procedure on how he’d go around handling a single complaint like mine from someone who is established online. Off camera we talked more about how every incident is different. And I agree, there isn’t one pat answer, but there are procedures to handle things and I’m still eager to know more about Dell’s procedure.

Does your company have procedures on handling negative conversation in the social media space? If so, let us know. What procedures work? What don’t work? Eager for a discussion.

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David Spark, a partner in, helps businesses grow by developing thought leadership through storytelling and covering live events. Contact David by email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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