Alister Cameron // Blogologist

Changing the world. One blog(ger) at a time.

The ultimate example of asking your customers for feedback: Dell IdeaStorm

dell ideastorm logo The ultimate example of asking your customers for feedback: Dell IdeaStorm

Dell IdeaStorm, which launched earlier this month, is the ultimate example of Seth Godin-style “take something good, innovate, and make it great” thinking.

I love it.

In a nutshell, Dell have turned user feedback into an entire social network site, complete with Digg-style voting, memberships, commenting and all that jazz. It’s a master stroke.

Now, if Dell want to know what their users care about and are most hungering for, they just go to this website and the front page lists the most requested product and feature ideas in order of demand!

Compare this, for a moment, to the typically boring “been-there-done-that” corporate approach to user feedback:

  • Post-purchase “Are you satisfied?” emails/direct mail pieces… boring.
  • Occasional customer surveys with gadget prizes as hooks… boring.
  • A typically hard-to-find customer feedback page that doesn’t promise your email will be answered… excruciatingly boring!

I could go on…

But what Dell have done is:

  • Invested so much effort into this community site that the message “we REALLY do care to know what you think” is heard loud and clear.
  • Invited their customers into a community experience that is rewarding in itself.
  • Shown the courage to expose their most valuable and (presumably) unedited user feedback/ideas on a publicly-accessible site where their competitors can see it too.

So, again, three thumbs up to Dell for this cool tool.

Now the challenge for Dell will be to make good on the promise to actually ACT on these suggestions, otherwise the whole thing will flow. This will test Dell’s time-to-market capabilities and the effectiveness of their internal channels of communication between Marketing (whom we presume run this site) and Product Development (who have the challenge of turning these customer ideas into products, features and services).

Now, How’s It Actually Going?

A search of the blogosphere shows that the conversation on the site is leaking outside as well, mainly related to the very loud and clear request for Linux on Dell notebooks. And how have Dell responded? Well, three days ago they announce that the users are getting what they asked for! So don’t miss this: Dell took JUST ONE WEEK from the launch of this site (Feb. 16th) to assess the demand, make the internal decisions and get the announcement out to the public! That’s pretty impressive.

The mainstream IT press seems cautiously optimistic that this might all be part of a new resurgence for Dell, who need some new wind in their sails.

Ultimately the litmus test for Dell will be to back image up with substance… to listen carefully to the users and to be quick to respond in the Product Development Department.

So far so good I think.

Lessons for Bloggers Like You and Me

So… what are the takeaways for you, dear blogging reader? Well, the point of this story for me is that there is always room for someone smart and skilled to innovate in a way that surprises their customer base (read: readership). For Dell, applying “Digg dynamics” to the lack-lustre subject of collecting ideas from customers took some deep-down right-brain thinking. Can you do the same thing? Sure you can icon smile The ultimate example of asking your customers for feedback: Dell IdeaStorm

Here’s an idea for how to do that: ask your readers! Put up a blog post asking your readers what they’d like to see you do/write/offer differently. You may get deafening silence, you may get one pearl in a pile of rubbish.

Now, putting my own advice into practice… what would you like me to do differently? How would you like me to shift the focus of my writing to better suit your needs and questions? Do you like the focus of my writing or is it a little “hit and miss” for you? What burning questions about blogging do you have for me? What tools/features/stuff would you like me to provide here?

I’m all ears!

dell, ideastorm, feedback, customer service, customer feedback, blogging, alister cameron

6 Comments

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  1. Posted 7 years, 5 months ago // Permalink

    I think this idea is perfect for someone like Dell who has always been about “Mass Customization.” But as far as blogs are concerned, I think it takes an well established blog to ask people what they would like to see more often. If this idea is adopted by bloggers everywhere, old and new, there is going to be a lot less originality. Just think if one blogger took all of his readers suggestions, there’d be no reason to visit another blog.

  2. Posted 7 years, 5 months ago // Permalink

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention, very cool.

  3. Alister Cameron
    Posted 7 years, 5 months ago // Permalink

    @Dan – Excellent point and I think I could have been more clear on that point… I am not suggesting that you have to take all reader suggestions on board.

    What I Do want to suggest is that you have to be diligent to explain what you will or will not do with the suggestions given. Heck there are some pretty weird people out there, for one, and you can’t be all things to all people.

    So you sift through the suggestions, identify the pearls, explain the failings of the rest, and be delighted that in that exercise alone, you’ve had a great opportunity — both for yourself and your readers — to review/restate your focus as a blogger!

  4. Posted 7 years, 5 months ago // Permalink

    Alister,

    I have read two of your posts and like your writing style very much, as well as your ideas. I will certainly keep reading.

    I just started blogging last Friday, and am open to new ideas. For example, the ideas about exellence and writing style were right on point for me.

    The problem that I face is information overload. What would be extremely helpful would be a primer in one location for a newbie like me. It could contain writing tips, technical considerations, gadgets, things to avoid, ways to increase readership — the list could go on.

    Though I can almost see many people pointing to their own several posts on many blogs that have already given this advice, that is the essence of the problem. I’m new at this. If I was an old hand, I could go and sift through the material myself, but I have neither the background nor the time.

    I am a business lawyer. I have worked in a very large law firm and have worked for two Fortune 500 oil related companies. After reading a small amount of someone’s writing I can usually get a good feel for that person’s ability to write. When it comes to blogging, a good writer engenders trust. A primer on your site would be something that I would read.

    OFF TOPIC: I found your blog on Robert Hruzek’s blogroll. He writes Middle Zone Muzings at http://middlezonemusings.com/.

    OFF TOPIC: Have you considered using Dell IdeaStorm ideas, or those like them to obtain feedback for the church? Creating a social feedback network could be very useful, especially if feedback was honest and thoughtful. While Christ is certainly no commodity, many of the Dell ideas could be modified to produce useful tools to meet the needs of the congregation and seekers.

  5. Alister Cameron
    Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Tariq, thank you for your carefully thought-out post.

    I am aware that I have slipped a little of late into posts that are probably not as valuable to “newbie” bloggers as I might have liked. I need to recrify that.

    I will definitely look at the primer idea you have mentioned. It’s a great idea.

    If there are specific questions/issues you have, please let me know.

    Cheers,

    - Alister

  6. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Dell was always a innovative company. So no surprise here.

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. suit your needs and questions? Do you like the focus of my writing or is it a little “hit and miss” for you? What burning questions about blogging do you have for me? What tools/features/stuff would you like me to provide here? I’m all ears! Comments

  2. suit your needs and questions? Do you like the focus of my writing or is it a little “hit and miss” for you? What burning questions about blogging do you have for me? What tools/features/stuff would you like me to provide here? I’m all ears! Comments

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