I’m looking forward to the history of this period being written. It’s all moving very fast, and it’s sometimes easy to miss moments that could, for want of a less cliched term, be called tipping points.
We keep hearing about how companies have got to wake up to the power of blogs, and the idea of customer power, and engage in dialogue. But we don’t always see it as starkly as in this case, as pointed out by Dan Gillmor:
HP’s David Gee, head of worldwide marketing for HP’s management software business, deleted a negative comment on his month-old blog, encountered an angry and widespread anger, and backtracked. He apologises here:
We’re learning more and more about our customers every single day. Since I started to blog back in March, I’ve received comments posted online and eMail directly to me. Some are positive and some are negative. Earlier this week, an HP customer posted a comment about his experience upgrading a media center PC. His experience was not good and he let us know. We pulled the comment. This was a bad decision and we have reversed it.
This was a good learning experience for us and we strive to maintain honest and open communication with our customers. If we are going to use blogging as a legitimate connection between us and our customers, we need to choose either to be in all the way or out. We choose to be in. We want to hear from you.
As folk commenting on the post point out, this is a rare grovel, and free of PR spin. It would be interesting to know to what level that decision had to go before it was made. Because this is not an itsy-bitsy change. It’s fundamental. If you allow negative comments, if you allow customers to vent their spleen on your website (blog or otherwise), then you have to be ready to do that every day, with every customer, and feel the burn as customers start to talk to each other as much to you. On your time, and under your logo.
Just to underline the point, a poster added their own tuppennies’ worth to the bottom of the post:
I think you are a bastard if you delete posts like that. We have freedom of speech in this country and if you dont like it, THAN MOVE!
Wanna know what I think of HP??? I think HP is the worst computer company ever to exist! They lie. I got lied to 5 times over the phone during a series of technical support calls.They told me that if they sent the fixed product to me and it wasnt “really fixed”, that they would issue a refund. But you know what they did? They replaced (and deleted all of my data) the hard drive!! The problem was the internal WIFI card that I did not want to spend $50 buying a new one!
This Country is a democracy, and if you dont like it, than move!
-Casey S Posted by AngryHPCustomer#9999999991 on May 8, 2005 1:09:49 AM PDT
At the time of writing this, the posting is still up there. HP, welcome to the world of blogs.