“Blogger Jeff Jarvis single handedly brought down Dell! He hurt their stock price! He hurt their reputation! Thus, buy our services! Blog monitoring, blogger relations, blog, blog, blog! Do it now or it will happen to you!”

The pitches are probably more refined than that. But in reading PR blogs, it’s clear that the Dell Hell situation has become a go to case study for PR firms pitching blogger relations programs. I’ll bet it works, too. It’s an easy argument to make.

Backing up, in July of 2005 Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine bought a lemon from Dell. He paid a premium for a four year in-home service plan and Dell refused to live up to their pomise. They refused to come to his house and fix his computer, which is what he paid for them to do. Jarvis got angry and started complaining about it. Other bloggers came forward with similar problems and the blogosphere engaged in open warfare against Dell. You can read Jarvis’ R-rated original posts here and a great case study on the situation here.

You know what though, the “blogs brought down Dell” argument rings false to me. The fact is, Jarvis only resorted to blog complaints after being told to buzz off by Dell customer service personnel over the phone. I can guarantee you he wasn’t the first customer this happenned to. I would also guarantee that Dell was well aware that customers weren’t happy about the in home service plan (and problems with their computers) long before Jarvis started his blogging crusade. Customer service folks record phone complaints religiously. Dell knew what they were doing. They knew they were cutting costs at the expense of customer satisfaction.

Ultimately, the problem in the Dell Hell case is that Dell has (or had) terrible customer service policies. The problem is that Dell just didn’t care. Jarvis (and the blogosphere) exposed a customer service problem that had been there all along.

Blogs didn’t bring down Dell. Dell brought down Dell.

I think it’s important to listen to bloggers. But it’s probably more important to listen to your phone service reports and to not enact policies that are anti-consumer. Blogs expose problems that are systemic.

The solution here isn’t simply to reach out to bloggers or to launch a blogger relations program. The solution is to be a good company that values its’ customers.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.