Change or Die

In three words, one of the great principles of business. Clearly, Dell Computers was
one of the dieing. Yes, it is a huge corporation making a lot of money.
But as its success led to a large company, it seemed to insulate itself
from what its customers were saying. This is a sure, if not in this
case swift, path to doom.

But recently, I noticed Dell Computers is trying to change. I see this in their new corporate blog (clog?). They (it?) should be applauded for that, even as it
(they?), if I may be so bold to say since who am I to comment, learn what works and what
doesn’t in blogdom.

I have to ask, can a corporation write a blog? If it can, should it? I
thought blogs were person to person, not corporation to person. To me, the best of breed are written by one person who has an opinion, not a series of guest writers. It is jarring to me to read different
posts from different people. Yes, I know, newspapers are written by
multiple authors and so are some other blogs (General Motors comes to
mind, perhaps not the best corporation to emulate, nor for that matter
are news papers), none of which bothers most people. But I think blogs work best when they
are written by a person, not a corporation.

From the looks of it, as they were planning the blog, the principle
they chose to go with was “lead with your strength.”
This is usually a good idea. The problem is how you
choose to translate the principle into action.

In this case, it appears to me that Dell chose to create a series of interviews that come
across, unfortunately, as amateur commercials. I guess the prototype
was Robert Scoble’s effective interviews of Microsoft personnel. But
when you compare what Mr. Scoble did and what these interviews are, I
get the feeling that I’m watching something rehearsed. Something almost
un-natural. But whatever these are, they are not conversations
nor even interviews. So much so I have to wonder if it was ever
intended to be. Perhaps not.

I think the secret of Mr. Scoble’s work was that the interviews appeared to be unrehearsed
(whether they were or not I have no way of knowing) and represented the
unedited conversation of interesting people doing interesting things.
Do that long enough and consistently enough and you begin to build not
only a conversation but that truly valuable relationship called trust.
That Microsoft not only allowed but encouraged such conversations
speaks volumes about the good side of MS (the bad side being
personified by such things as, for example, Windows Genuine Advantage). Dell needs to do
the same on the good side, but in their own way.

Dell didn’t get to where it is without being smart so I’m sure it will learn and adapt. At least, I
hope it will. We use nothing but Dell desktops here (laptops are
another story, we use IBM/Lenovo, Sony, Dell, and Toshiba, among
others) and like them. A lot. The few times we’ve had problems, our
paid for customer support resulted in replacements within two business
days. Being in the middle of the Pacific, you can’t get much better
than that.

But too many times I’ve heard of problems with customer support for home PC customers. The number of
people having problems with Dell support has risen to a roar of blogs.
Perhaps, finally, Dell is listening.



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