Most PR executives, and their marketing department, would be excited to get a full article in AARP’s magazine considering it has one of the largest circulations of any publication. But I don’t think there is joy being felt on the executive deck of the Holland American Cruise line. A recent article highlighted (link above) the travails of a couple that had a terrible experience. One that even the most inexperienced management team would have realized was wrong to have allowed it to happen.
They forgot the unwritten rule of customer service. When a problem arises go out of your way to provide great service to your customer they will tell dozens of people. Handle it atrociously and they will tell hundreds. In this case the amateur marketers at Holland America Cruises manage to have it exposed to millions, through AARP’s publication of this incident. Millions learned of their less than caring attitude towards the customer. The cost to them would have been far less if they had been empathetic, courteous, fair … and smart. So with ship horns blasting, we award them this month’s “Dumb Marketing Move” award. They went out of their way to earn it.
Lesson Learned: Never underestimate the reach, impact and overall effect of the quality of your customer service, be it positive or negative.