Good news for anyone who has crossed swords with a blogger. It is possible to recover. In a week in which we see Chris Locke and Kathy Sierra smiling and laughing together just days after serious accusations, including death threats, got tossed around, we now see Jeff Jarvis making nice with Dell.
I’m not sure which one is harder to believe, but I do know it is the latter that really interests me.
For those unfamiliar, here’s the short version from Jeff:
I had a rather infamous run-in with Dell here at Buzzmachine when I complained about a bad machine and service. They ignored me, but thousands of similarly frustrated customers did not.
This became known as “Dell Hell” and generated massively bad publicity for the company. In recent months, however, Michael Dell has reasserted control over the company. Dell has now gone to great lengths to join the online conversation, including starting a blog as well as an online suggestion site that has drawn incredible community interest.
Indeed, Dell is now going to offer Linux based computers because of the results of this online outreach. For a company that resisted this sort of offering in the past, this is a major about-face.
Just as big was the outreach the company did to Jarvis recently:
When I blogged that I was headed down to Austin and the University of Texas last week, I got email out of the blue from Dell’s chief blogger, Lionel Menchaca, inviting me to meet him and his colleagues over drinks or out at Dell HQ. I said I hadn’t been planning to pack my flak jacket and he replied, “Even though it is Texas, there will be no guns involved.”
The meeting went so well that Jeff now says he wants to go back and talk with the company some more to learn about their transformation. And rather than lambasting the company as a bunch of people who don’t understand their customers, he now writes:
And so it was a delight to sit down with three guys from Dell and look at the new world from the same side. These guys get it.
This story clearly demonstrates that if a company gets in hot water in the blogosphere, all hope is not lost. By changing practices and — more importantly — communicating more effectively with the social media community, reputations can be recovered. It’s not a slow process, and for Dell it clearly isn’t over (for many in the blogosphere, they will likely remain, at a minimum, on probation for quite some time).
In the past I have lamented the fact that the Blog Mob style of justice often used throughout the blogosphere scares companies away from joining the online conversation. As bloggers and podcasters, we want those companies here with us, not on the outside looking in. Hopefully the Jeff Jarvis and Dell story will now become a case study in how to recover, and not merely how to do things wrong.