Blaming customers for chaos is a bold strategy for companies.  Let's see if it pays off for them

Blaming customers for chaos is a bold strategy for companies. Let’s see if it pays off for them

Customers – how dare they? To show up too late for things, to show up too early, to show up at all.

Who do they think they assume their phone calls will be answered and DMs are answered on this side of eternity? Why do they demand to get the products and services they have paid for? Why do they complain of thirst?

Bizarre behavior, honestly. Do you remember the pandemic when finally – for once – none of these needy people were dealing with their boring problems and special wishes? Blissful.

Strangely enough, it has been a pretty pathetic year so far for customer relations. This is strange because it should be an easy time to make consumers happy. People are ready to be happy. We are on the verge of happy tears.

But instead of throwing up our gratitude and basking in the glow of our joy, some companies and organizations seem to be inclined to make us angry and even put the blame for their mistakes on us. It’s a bold strategy, as the meme says, let’s see if it pays off for them.

It was the night before Dublin’s unfortunate, rumor-mongering collapse that a big-screen announcement at the Stade de France announced that the UEFA Champions League final had been delayed due to “fans’ late arrival”.

The outrageous claim was immediately rejected on social media by Liverpool supporters who had been boiled by French police outside the stadium for hours, some tear gas and pepper sprayed for their problems.

And still it took almost a week for UEFA to gather the will to apologize for the “scary and disturbing events” that spectators had experienced or witnessed, while accusations from two French ministers of fake ticket fraud on a “massive industrial scale” have yet to be made. to be either motivated or withdrawn.

One lesson, while we wait for the almost independent UEFA review, should already be clear: by 2022, people are ready to discover nonsense, and they’ve had smartphones pushing back against it for a long time.

Let’s taxi on to Dublin Airport and its statement on 29 May that people queuing outside may not make their flights “due to large queues inside the terminal”.

The declaration, although technically true, allowed people to provide their own context: the airport operator DAA’s clueless underestimation of the number who would consider leaving the island – and visiting it – at the moment the Covid threat subsided. How could they get something so mission-critical so wrong?

The outgoing DAA chief Dalton “Platinum Services” Philips may have been remorseful when he appeared before the Oireachta Transport Committee, but his remorse was drowned out by simultaneous headlines about planned “holding pens” for prospective passengers who have the courage to show up “too” early – a completely rational response to the DAA’s disorder.

Even when the consumer guilt is just a fragment of a nuanced and otherwise apologetic analysis of a given debacle, organizations should know that the consumer guilt is everything anyone will remember.

A turbulent recovery for tourism and air travel

Take the vaccination reinforcement queues in December last year. This was not the best time for the otherwise laudable program rollout and certainly not the best time for Taoiseach to whine about missed meetings, especially when people received text messages for several meetings that they could not cancel.

Also take passports. I can only imagine that the people whose applications have ended up in an unknown black hole were happy to hear the recent Foreign Ministry clarification that even though the passport service “experiences a very large number of applications, this does not represent a backlog”, and by the way, 40 percent of people submit forms that are incomplete or incorrectly filled out.

As Tánaiste later reasoned, if that is the case, there is a problem with the forms, not the applicants. In fact, if your instinct is to fix problems on system users and not the actual systems, then it’s time to check your instinct.

Yes, exceptional circumstances prevailed when the pandemic was at its height and can still be said to apply now. No one has ever navigated after a pandemic recovery before. And yet, business leaders must have realized that one would come at some point. Under-resource supply can be a constraint on the entire economy, but it barely frees up highly paid executives who failed the “you had a job” test.

We can all feel sorry for the small restaurant that has been forced to cut its opening hours because they cannot get enough staff. We are not obliged to feel sympathy for large companies that used the pandemic as a protection to shrink their cost base, exert severe strain on their remaining employees and then offer less favorable terms when they try to staff themselves again.

Irish consumers hate injustice. In Reputation Agency’s annual RepTrak study, the behavior of organizations – defined as fair, ethical, open and transparent – became the biggest factor in their reputation this year, based on the responses of 6,500 people, who went about the actual products and services. they offer.

In the end, it is not the lack of staff that is causing the chaos we are seeing, it is promising. If the self-inflicted damage to companies’ reputation turns out to be permanent, it will not be a surprise. Even in the distance, the disappointment and desperation of people being let down after more than two years of Covid greed is unbearable to think about.

As kind as the German holiday giant TUI, do not sell holidays if the work pressure means that you have to cancel them, in some cases when passengers are at the gate or have boarded the plane.

Do not organize a music festival, as the organizers of last weekend’s Primavera Sound in Barcelona did, if you do not have enough bar staff or access to water to prevent ticket holders from mass-tweeting about dehydration.

Do not easily forget your legal responsibility towards customers with disabilities just because you work with fine margins. Do not advertise waiting times in your app if they are not reliable. Do not offer to host sporting events if you do not complete the task.

Try not to run out of toilet roll. But above all, if over-ambitions lead to chaos, do not dismiss customers’ right to be both cut and furious. Do not suggest that we just suck it up – for nothing will serve as a more effective guarantee that we will not do it.

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