Computer giant Dell said it has halved negative sentiment about its brand through the proactive use of social media.
Kelly Bridge, head of digital media communications, EMEA & Global Public Sector at Dell, told the Gartner Customer Relationship Management Summit in London how the company reaches out to customers via the internet to improve its brand image.
"In 2007, we got a group of senior online escalation agents to have conversations with customers via blogs and forums. This resulted in a 50 percent reduction in negative sentiment," she said.
According to Bridge, Dell gets 4,000 mentions a day online, the majority of which is not on the Dell website. The company encourages these mentions by being active in a range of social media outlets. These include personal and company accounts on Twitter and a community blog, Direct2Dell.
Dell also runs Ideastorm, a forum that allows customers to suggest ideas of how to improve the business and its products. The customer community then votes the ideas up or down, and each month Dell looks for the top 40 ideas to implement in its business.
As a result, Bridge said that the company has so far implemented 400 ideas from customers. She added that the Direct2Dell blogs attract millions of views.
Bridge highlighted the importance of measuring social media activity to assess how well it supports business objectives.
"We've linked our blogs with the [Dell] website so you can tell when customers are reading the blogs and go on to purchase something," said Bridge.
Meanwhile, when responding to customers online, Bridge said it is important to join their conversation on a customer level, and not to do a marketing pitch.
"Make sure you read all of the blogs and posts and respond to customers in a personalised tone. Customers expect you to be where they are, and expect you to be useful," she said.