Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Crisis Mismanagement

Tylenol famously took decisive action by recalling all their product from the shelves in 1982 when there was a suggestion of cyanide poisoning. Perrier did the same in 1990 in response to possible benzene contamination. Both were applauded and did not lose market share. In contrast, British chocolate maker Cadbury are currently suffering some flak for a recent recall that took place five months after they were aware of a potential salmonella issue.

The lesson is seemingly clear. Understand the customer issue, then act quickly and any short term pain will be worth it. So is that what Comcast's management did when this video was posted online? Well they took a "business decision" and fired the repairman who had fallen asleep on the customer's couch. Quick, decisive action for sure, but action for which I'm sure they will be pilloried because it emerges that he fell asleep while on hold for an hour to his own techinical department! An hour!

The customer wasn't failed by the repairman, he was seemingly failed by Comcast's internal structures. Yet the message his firing sends to potential customers is that Comcast doesn't understand the failings in its customer service. As I keep saying, we are all marketers and real marketing reqires nuance and comprehension, not business decisiveness!


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