As a social media consultant I have often cited Dell for its work in social media. Today I use Dell as an example of a corporation using social media to connect with customers; really listen to complaints and suggestions; and begin the work of making changes in its processes. Social media consultant, Mack Collier, predicts that this type of event “…is an example of the next evolution of social media for companies.”

This week, in the same week that Dell earned the prestigious “Voice of the Customer” award from Forrester Research, its social media team released “CAPtivating Conversation: Dell CAP Days Participants Speak Their Mind”; video of the participants in its inaugural Customer Advisory Panel. We were interviewed briefly before and after the panel discussions and the video captures our candid responses.

The Forrester Research award recognized Dell and two other companies for “…initiatives that enable companies to dramatically improve how they collect, interpret, and react to customer feedback.” The Customer Advisory Panel while not called out in the Forrester press release, certainly falls within that category. In a post on the Direct2Dell.com blog, Gary Fox states that “we understand that our company’s continued success is based on a common theme—putting customers at the heart of everything we do. How customers use  their technology to grow and succeed is at the center of why we exist.” I’m glad they feel that way since it bodes well for the future.

As a participant in the panel I was flown in to Austin and treated with great hospitality. I enjoyed meeting members of the Dell social media team and other Dell panel members with shared concerns. Most of us left Austin feeling that the people working within Dell were committed to making changes. As importantly, we felt that they were really listening to us. An valuable trait in today’s marketplace.

That Dell has many issues to address in turning itself around is increasingly clear. That Dell recognizes this and is putting the pieces in place to makes changes now seems equally clear. The follow up from the initial meetings has been solid and the discussion continues on Twitter (#DellCAP) and in the Dell online community forums.

As Gary Fox states in his post, “The Forrester Research Voice of the Customer Award demonstrates that we’re headed in the right direction.” I concur. Congratulations on the award and good luck on the work ahead. We’ll be watching.