Suppose a marketing campaign did FOURTEEN TIMES better than you’d expected. That would be a great success unless you weren’t prepared to fulfill those orders. Then it could be very bad news for your reputation — and your revenues.
Case in point: when AT&T signed on as the network for the iPhone, Apple expected to capture 1% of the smartphone market. Turns out, the iPhone has captured 14% of the market and AT&T is having a tough time delivering the bandwidth to serve all those customers. iPhone customers aren’t just dissatisfied, they’re connected. In December, journalist and blogger Dan Lyons appealed to members of iPhone Nation to protest by having everyone launch a data-intensive application at the same time to bring down the AT&T network. There was so much chatter across Twitter and Facebook that the Federal Communications Commission voiced concerns about public safety and homeland security. In response, protesters pulled plans for “Operation Chokehold” … but not before the iPhone and AT&T had become the subject of widespread publicity and the butt of jokes on Saturday Night Live.
Okay, so you’re not AT&T or Apple. This is still a cautionary tale for every marketer. For starters, remember that marketing must be integrated with fulfillment. Delays, poor service and bad follow-up can all turn marketing success into a customer relations disaster. Here are two take-aways for us all:
First, never over-promise— to your customers or to your business partners. Know your business processes, capabilities and capacity. Think your marketing through and play out scenarios for how you will handle fulfillment if you do hit a homerun.
Second, always remember that today’s Web 2.0 consumers are powerful. They can badmouth your business or organize a boycott at lightning speed. Never take them for granted and never stop communicating with them. Do all you can to prevent dissatisfaction, but if problems do arise act fast to fix things and keep customers informed of all you’re doing to make things right – a lot like Toyota is doing right now with its own ads.