Can poor customer engagement across social media destroy a brand?

I came across a remarkable story about how a brand failed to deliver on its promise and the result of that failure. You can read the full story here

In a nutshell, it’s the story of a gamers attempt to buy an add-on for video game console controllers. The tool, known as the Avenger and invented by N-Control was announced in November 2011, word soon spread across social media and demand went through the roof.

After ordering 2 of the controllers, the gamer was told it would ship in early December 2011 however by the middle of the month he had heard nothing so emailed the president of marketing to enquire as to the shipping date and was told it would ship a day later than announced.

Unfortunately it didn’t. Then it was announced that anyone ordering the controller after December 26th would get a US$10 discount however, those who had ordered before December 26th and had still not received their controllers were not entitled to the discount.

By this stage the gamer was getting a bit annoyed and emailed the firm asking if he cancelled his original order, could he then qualify for the US$10 discount (don’t forget he’s ordered 2 of them).

The firm came back with this statement, “Feel free to cancel we need the units we’re back ordered 11,000 units so your 2 will be gone fast. Maybe I’ll put them on eBay for 150.00 myself. Have a good day Dan.”

By this stage the gamer was seething so he wrote again to the President of marketing but this time copied the email to organisers of major gaming conventions in the US. Amazingly the President of marketing responded by calling the gamer childish, laughing at his complaints, and dropping the names of numerous gaming conventions that they intended to attend, one of which was organised by the very company the email was CCd to.

The organiser took the side of the gamer and banned the company from taking a booth at their gaming convention. Then the story was posted online and went viral and this is when it really hit the fan. Because of the power of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and others the story even crashed the site it originated from! You can see more information on how it went viral here

Soon after N-Control fired the President of marketing and made a US$10,000 donation to charity.

What lessons can be learned from such an event?

Promises made must be kept. If you don’t prepare to feel the wrath of the consumer.

Make sure the people who represent your brand live the brand.

N-Control is on the defensive and maybe for some time. It didn’t need to be in this situation. Know how to use the Internet.

Be careful when you offer discounts. Consumers who have paid pre discount rates expect value. If you don’t deliver, offer the discount to those who kick started your sales.

I believe that an event such as this may not bring down a brand but it could be extremely expensive and the fall out for N-Control will last for years. If they come up with a sub standard product they will really struggle.

And such an event can certainly cost people their jobs and quite possibly, as more and more employers trawl the Internet for information on potential hires, their careers.