Yet the language was probably a little more colorful. Three days after the launch of Chief Blogger Lionel Menchaca’s blog, all hell broke loose. Several people within Dell were upset with him for linking to Engadget story about exploding laptops.
But Menchaca wasn’t worried about being fired. He had the support of Michael Dell and Vice President of Corporate Group Communications, Bob Pearson. Just a few months earlier, Michael Dell had asked Bob, “Obviously a lot of people are in the blogosphere talking about their issues with Dell products, why aren’t we doing anything about it?”
Back in 2006, that was all Menchaca and Pearson needed to help launch what may be the world’s most social company.
5 Reasons Why Dell is More Social than your Company
1. THEY ARE PASSIONATE SOCIAL LISTENERS
Dell’s been tuning into our social conversations about them for the past 5 years. Initially it started as a small project, but Michael Dell quickly ramped up the program by asking the team, “Why aren’t we monitoring everything in the realm about us?”
Today, Dell uses sentiment analysis to identify issues with their brand and products in order to proactively solve customer support issues. They monitor consumer trends for potential R&D benefits. And they analyze their industry’s social stream to stay informed of competitor impact and activities. All from a highly visible social media command center (pictured above).
The results are higher “demoter to promoter” scores (basically the ratio of negative to positive advocates), increased customer loyalty, higher first touch resolution rates (did Dell solve the problem immediately), and Dell believes it’s more competitive.
Technologies used: Radian6, custom Radian6 dashboards, Bazaar Voice, Salesforce.com
“We have 10,000 Dell employees trained as social media professionals,” said Susan Beebe, Dell’s Chief Listener, “but we want a lot more people at Dell trained to be brand ambassadors.” In fact, Beebe wants to see everyone at Dell trained in social media.
“We now have Dell social experts worldwide to help our customers,” Beebe said, “and we’re listening and engaging in 11 languages.” Beebe gives credit to one of the Fortune 100’s top CMO’s Karen Quintos for helping to drive this initiative.
“Karen is very passionate about customer service. She sees the impact we’re having with customers and the positive impact on Dell the brand,” Beebe emphasized, “I don’t think there’s any other company more committed to helping customers.”
The results are greater customer loyalty and brand perception through one-on-one direct relationships with customers.
TIP: for more information on the Dell Social Media University check out this interview by the Radian 6 team.
3. THEY TURN CUSTOMERS INTO BRAND ADVOCATES
Getting Dell’s 103,000 employees certified in Social Media isn’t enough for Menchaca, Beebe, and Jason Duty leader of Dell’s Social Outreach Services. “Building relationships with our customers so that they become advocates is one of our top initiatives,” said Duty, “last year the internal perception was that our customers were not engaged with us. So I was tasked with building a team to change that perception.”
With almost 600,000 Facebook fans on the consumer site alone, Dell is easily in the top 1% of technology companies. But the Dell Social team isn’t satisfied with fans alone; they want brand advocates. The strategy begins with publicly thanking their customers for buying Dell. It then continues with identifying industry influencers and and nurturing them.
“Throughout last year, we encountered a number of people that were influential,” Jason Duty tells me, “we helped them out and sure enough they’d write or tweet about Dell in a positive way.”
(Most influential in Dell’s communities provided by Twitalyzer)
The Dell team claims to be working with influencers and evangelists to give them early access to announcements and product information. This in turn builds advocacy by making them feel like Dell insiders.
The benefits of building brand advocacy are that the company has customers that are selling Dell via word of mouth (which is free and effective) and advocates that are known to volunteer their time to help other Dell customers (support cost reduction).
4. DELL EXECUTIVES ARE SOCIAL
Ask any Social Business expert (Jeremiah Owyang is at the top of most people’s list) what it takes to be successful and they’ll tell you that Executive sponsorship is key. But in true Dell fashion, not only does the team have executive support, they have executive participation.
(These Social scorecards are provided to me courtesy of Twitalyzer)
The benefits of having your top executives actively supporting and participating in social media are the following:
- Increased transparency with customers and employees which lead to higher sales (people want to do business with people they learn to trust).
- Employees feel empowered to participate in social media (if our CEO is participating, it must be okay).
- More social awareness of the brand (brand executives are influential, I want to follow and learn from them)
There are more of course, but these seem to be the consistent benefits I have heard from customers and employees of the world’s top brands.
5. DELL’S COMMUNITY IS ACTIVE AND INVOLVED
“If you don’t do what I want, I’ll have my 200 Twitter bots spread false information about Dell.”
Social blackmail is going to be an increasing problem. And in Dell’s case there have been a few social media related incidents where threats were made. Normally these types of incidents can cause significant brand damage if not contained properly. In some cases, they can be devastating.
So how did Dell call off the threat above? Nothing. Fortunately, the Dell community quickly and passionately arose to Dell’s defense and quelled the attack. At times, the community is so passionate about defending the company over dodgy issues, that Dell has to ask that they back down a little.
Does your company have a community like Dell’s? Not many can say they do.
- Dell Advocates and VIP’s are identifying potential brand threats and alerting Dell to potential issues.
- An empowered community attracts new community members thus enlarging and strengthening it.
- An active community is like have a free R&D department. I bet some of Dell’s best ideas are surfaced from IdeaStorm.
The Social ScoreCard for Dell
Dell’s focus on Social Business is broad and multichannel. Below is a quick scorecard on where Dell can be found.
So is Dell the World’s Most Social company?
To recap, Dell seems to embody what Social Business pundits call the Social Enterprise. Starting with their CEO and CMO, the company is executing on a strategy to train Dell employees on social strategy while working externally to create brand advocates. The result will be a powerful platform of people that are socially enabled to promote and support the Dell brand through their own social networks.
For me, that’s a differentiator few competitors will be able to overcome.
Of course, companies like Microsoft, IBM, Google, Best Buy, Disney, SAP and Zappos are all legitimate contenders for the world’s leading social companies (look for more on this later), but so far Dell seems to stand at or near the top of the list. So if they are not the world’s most social company, they are pretty close to the top.