What the Dell Should They Do?
Friday, September 01, 2006
You've read the sarcastic, company-mocking headlines; you've seen the photos of burned out trucks, trailer homes and houses. Not only are many media reports off-putting…they're horrifying. After reading and thinking about the articles, here's my assessment of how Dell handled the situation:
- Great job, Dell, for announcing the recall in the first place. But now that everyone connected to a television, computer or radio knows about this tragic error, let's hope you also have internal knowledge of who's purchased your systems since many aren't always connected or don't always respond to warnings swiftly. Non-responders might also be the audience that publicly blames you.
- Not such a good job getting in front of the media. As of this writing, I've neither heard nor seen the proactive radio, television interviews or other efforts that enable a control position during crisis.
- Is Dell responding at a grassroots level? I hope that Dell is planning to reach out their loyalists to get a sense for how this incident is affecting their commitment to their brand.
Turning Crisis into Opportunity:
Know your plan, your process, your promise.
Disaster and crisis communication is essential to reputation and brand management. In this universe where word-of-mouth is pervasive and controls the media sway, crisis communication is also something companies should have locked down before anything happens.
Dell, to use this as an opportunity, you need three things:
1) I'm assuming there is a plan to get all the recalls in and accounted for-and the date by which you'd like X% of them in. Set a goal and publicize your plan to get there. Otherwise the problem will linger and your brand will be in trouble.
2) What's your process? To rebuild the trust of your customers, partners and suppliers-and that of future customers-you will need to be clear about you keep this from happening again.
3) Finally, what is your promise? This event is so large that it is now part of the Dell legacy. With that awareness, what will you do to assuage fears of customers? This is the time to proactively integrate a smart and simple guarantee into your company's mantra.
Rather than seeing an embarrassing vanilla recall, use this as an opportunity to rethink your company's promise to its customers and show how smart companies deal with issues… the right way-the Dell way.
Promise Phelon, CEO firstname.lastname@example.org