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Customer Service: Don't test the intelligence of your customer

Customer Service: Don't test the intelligence of your customer

An excellent product notwithstanding, never try to test your customer’s loyalty. I’m of course talking about the 2012 PR debacle of the NFL. The NFL is the king of the hill when it comes to professional sports in the US.  With annual revenues over $10 billion, and a rabid fan following, it is the envy of all organized sports. The NFL from its lofty perch thought, wrongly I might add, that it would lockout the striking NFL referees for the 2012 season and bring in replacement-officials.

All the parties associated with the spectacle that is NFL - current and former players, coaches, the fans and the media - thought it was a bad idea. But the NFL in its infinite wisdom thought otherwise. They wanted the NFL-fandom to buy their line that all was fine and that the upcoming season would be business and usual. The first signs of trouble started right out of the gate with so-so officiating during the pre-season games. The players and particularly the paying customers – who, by the way, have to pay the full price for their tickets despite not getting the best product (not many starters play in the pre-season games) - were getting frustrated by the jerky-pace of the games and the blown calls.

The 2012 NFL season started under the cloud of replacement-officials working regular season games. The product the NFL was putting out in the first few weeks was anything but great. Despite that, the ratings were up from the previous year. And the big-wigs running the NFL were so drunk on their egos, they thought the storm clouds had passed and everything was hunky-dory, but they were not paying attention to the disconnect between great ratings and the simmering anger from their fan-base. Meanwhile the players, the coaches and the media were warning that the status quo could lead to devastating injuries to players; a blown call that could decide the game in favor of the wrong team; or finally, bring into question the integrity of the game itself. But the NFL was tone-deaf to any concerns or suggestions.

In the third week of the season, on Monday Night Football no less, the dire prediction unfolded in front of a national audience. The replacement-officials blew the call on the final play of the game and awarded the Seattle Seahawks the win over the Green Bay Packers. The NFL had egg on its face, and an outraged football nation. They quickly settled with the officials and offered them a new contract. And if news reports are to be believed, the two parties were $2 million apart from reaching a deal. Think about it, $2 million. In the grand scheme of things ($10 billion), that dollar amount seems like pittance. I hope it was worth it. Because the black-eye they got from this disaster lasted a while.

The lesson learned from the above example is that when a customer buys your product they are acknowledging that they believe in you as a company. This is a sacred trust. Businesses should never take this trust for granted. They should cherish it, and make a commitment to build on it every day.

Image Source: NFL



Last Updated: 2017-10-26 19:41:31

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