Have your marketing and operations teams met?
We recently took a family vacation which was somewhat hastily thrown together (note that I didn’t use the word “planned”). We picked a resort and booked it based upon their web site (mistake #1) and intended to do more research while we could still cancel it without penalty but that never quite happened (mistake #2). Next thing you know we were locked into the reservation.
What became apparent to me within a very short period of time of arriving on the property was that the marketing message was completely out of synch with the way the resort actually operated. I won’t bore you with the details but trust me, I could easily put together a list. Actually, I did and shared it with “customer relations” but that could be the subject of another newsletter.
The point today is that the marketing department created a set of expectations upon which the operations team failed to deliver. Some of the fall down was simply delivering a sub-par experience compared to what I would expect at the price point I was paying. Let’s call that “Sin #1”. The company is failing to deliver against a marketplace benchmark.
But “Sin #2” was even more egregious (at least in my opinion). The company had gone out of its way to raise my expectations via their communication with me through its web site, the reservation agent on the phone, literature that was on the property, etc. but then failed to deliver. I’m sure all of this stuff cost money but toward what end? Did it help persuade me to stay there? Sure. But it actually contributed to my dissatisfaction and ensured that I will absolutely never return to a property owned or operated by this group in the future. There are just too many other choices.
So back to the main point. The goal of marketing communications is to attract potential customers. But of what long term value is that if you don’t deliver on the promises made in those communications? Marketing cannot operate on its own independent of the rest of the company. Nor can the team responsible for delivering the product or service to the customer operate with total disregard to the marketing message. When this is the case, both the VP of Operations and the VP of Marketing should both be held accountable. The CEO should just be fired as he or she is not doing their job.
The marketing message and the operations team should be working in a coordinated fashion to ensure that the expectations they set are met (or exceeded). If you’re in marketing, I’d suggest you find a way to personally experience the product or service that you are pitching so you that you understand the customers’ view. If you’re in operations, I’d suggest that you do the same and further seek to fully understand what your marketing team is promising and honestly measure yourself against that standard. On both sides, candid conversations with real customers (especially unhappy ones) are essential. Most unhappy customers choose to find an alternative and tell their friends and family (which may even extend to social media posts) about the bad experience. Few bother to voice their concerns to management.
Many have heard the phrase “under promise, over deliver”. Now, one can argue about the merits of this advice. Do you really want to avoid attracting customers by failing to convey the benefits that your product or service offers?
On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone tout the merits of “OVER promising and UNDER delivering”. What possible good can come from that? That’s a near certain way to end up with a frustrated customer with little to no probability for repeat business. You might even end up the subject of some monthly newsletter!
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