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Power to the people! How social networking sites can influence change.

Power to the people!I’ve always believed that people like the relatively anonymous nature of contacting companies via email and website contact forms. I know when I’m faced with the options of calling, emailing or using an online form I choose to email or use the form. So, perhaps that’s why 2 stories that illustrate how internet users are using social bookmarking sites and corporate website feedback sections to make their opinion heard have struck a chord with me.

Dell IdeaStorm

Dell IdeaStormIn April this year it was reported that Dell had sat up and listened to their customers who had used the Dell feedback website “Dell IdeaStorm” to request that they start selling new PCs with Microsoft XP installed as well as Windows Vista OS after Dell has made a complete switch to Vista for all home PCs. The website is a digg like website where customers voice their ideas for Dell and users of the site then either promote of demote that idea. It’s a great example of how the internet can be used to effect change within a large corporate and not the only example of Dell using the site to appease consumer demand. Users of the site have also requested they offer the Ubuntu flavour of linux as an OS option and again in May Dell listened and announced they would start offering Unbuntu as a option.

HSBC Listen to Facebook users

HSBC and FacebookYesterday saw HSBC announce it was to abandon plans to scrap interest-free overdrafts for students leaving university this summer after thousands of students on the popular social networking website Facebook had threatened to boycott the bank. Another great example of the internet being used to effect change within a large corporate.

I can’t help thinking that in both cases traditional methods of gleaming customer feedback wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful. The relative ease and anonymity of, click to vote here and a click to join this group there, compared to writing a letter of complaint or making a phone call makes voicing your opinion a much more attractive prospect.

I think a big pat of the back for both Dell and HSBC is in order for showing that they do listen to their customers and are willing to adopt new methods of collecting customer feedback. If either company wants to offer a free laptop or some money to us for pointing that out then please get in touch.

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