There is an old car salesman's trick I heard about once that was rumored to magically diffuse tense customer situations. As the customer's voice and blood pressure escalated, the salesman would calmly get out a legal notepad and begin writing down everything the customer said, in plain sight of him or her, so they could actually see that he was listening. Soon the customer would wind down and the transaction would proceed as usual. The salesman did not do anything to address any of the customer issues, but the act of being heard made the customer feel as though something had happened.
The high tech version of this can be seen in the social media sites developed by companies like Dell and Delta to allow customers to offer ideas and vent their grievances. (Read this AdAge article for more) Dell's IdeaStorm in particular has been touted as the standard for transparency and innovation and has been the incubator for popular ideas such as including Linux on new Dell laptops and PC's. These innovations are important, and giving voice to the customer is essential. However, somewhere in all the ooing and ahing over the Storm, the articles about Dell's (still) lackluster customer service have been quieted without any real changes having been made. Delta may offer a place for you to request bigger blankets at Change.Delta.Com but the customer experience has yet to improve at the airport or in the actual plane. Dell has promised to hire more tech support in North America and implement a language test to ensure clear communication between tech support and customers. Those are two important steps and ones their customers are likely to hold them to.
That's said we understand significant changes don't happen overnight. Like many of their customers and the media we'll be watching both of these companies closely and if they do deliver will be the first to give them props. Otherwise, it's just a high tech legal pad.