It’s often said that people show their true colours in adversity. Perhaps the same can be said of businesses. A little bit of snow descends and once again the country goes to pot. The effect on a client’s business is immediate as a group 45 staff from Germany whose flight to London on Friday for a team building weekend coincided with the arrival of the white enemy. After a five hour wait at Dusseldorf airport they were told the flight was cancelled and so the trip had to be called off. Sad to say it was not the German airport that was unprepared for the snow….
On Sunday I read in my newspaper about a frustrated sales representative from Toronto who vowed to not merely boycott British Airways in the future, but to never set foot in this country again, such was her dismay at our inability to cope with the weather conditions. She ended up re-booking her flight to Canada with BA in her come country because the UK site and call centre had closed, an extra aggravation that left her vowing to pay as much as $500 more in the future to bypass Britain with a direct flight, rather than to rely on our capacity to support her travel plans.
Another poor traveler reported how a bad situation was made worse when one of the UK’s leading hotel chains ripped him off for the princely sum of £289 for a room that he had in the past paid £95 for. This is not marketing behaviour that we should endorse. Yes, we know how price moves according to supply and demand, but this is not the same as exploiting a situation that drives a short term surge in distress purchases. Brands that hike their price to exploit this situation in the short term, should not expect repeat purchases in the future.
My own personal snow and service tale, has a good and bad side to it. On the same Friday referred to above, my family and I were due to travel to see Wicked in London, courtesy of much prized Christmas present from my dear mother. As the day wore on we came to the reluctant conclusion that travelling from Hertfordshire was going to be too dangerous, if not impossible, so we called the ticket agency in the hope that a re-booking might be arranged. After being kept on hold for a total of 12 minutes the answer was a resounding no, with full blame laid at the feet of the Apollo Theater in Victoria. At this point many customers may have given up. But with three sad faces staring at me, I re-dialed the theatre directly. Much to our collective delight, I got a completely different reaction from ‘Andrew’ in the booking office. He could not have been more sympathetic and happily re-arranged the seats for a Friday in February. Cheers for the Apollo, boos for the ticketing agency and perhaps a lesson that the hotel chain referred to above, should learn from.
The concept of scenario planning encourages marketers to consider the delivery of their proposition in differing circumstances. Occasionally stuff happens that makes life a little tricky, but we should strive to prepare for it, manage it with good grace and above all, never take liberties with our customers.
In fact, strong marketing in adverse conditions can take the experience to a level for the customer that is higher than had been the case prior to the onset of these conditions. Consider this. I now feel even more positive about our visit to the theatre than I did before.