July 14, 2006
    how NOT to market or sell

Logoelis Our offices are on the 7th Floor of an office building in one of the main avenues in Lisbon. There are several predominant companies with strong ties to some of the largest companies in Portugal.

This morning, a sales person from Elis, a company that supplies “services to businesses and administrations”, walked into the reception of our office building and asked at security to visit all the offices. As the building has in the past suffered several security breaches and all those present have communicated that under no circumstances can people disrupt their working day, especially as one of the offices, which is a specialized recruitment company, conducts evaluation tests for some of the largest companies in the World.

The salesperson, who was identified, dismissed the security’s request and for half an hour tried to get through acting in a highly provocative manner. Security had to call the police and this was only resolved when two police cars arrived and the salesperson was asked to leave the premises – which he did.

You have to ask the question – not how much revenue did the salesperson from Elis accomplish from this visit; not how much this cost to Elis in salary terms, but more importantly what type of damage does an episode like this bring to a brand such as Elis.

Analyze the following: Ignore for now that I will use this as an example probably for the rest of my life as an example of WHAT not to do and the hundreds of people who are either decision makers or have close links to decision makers that will hear this as an example and then retell it when discussing an example of exceedingly POOR customer service.

Security guard works in a company that has hundreds of security staff that work in hundreds of office buildings. This will no doubt be a hot topic discussed for the next few days and passed on and passed on. Not intentionally, but because bad news travels quicker than good news and in this case, an unfortunate disadvantage to Elis, the security guard is female (and the salesperson male).

In turn, the next time that someone from Elis steps into the foyer of any office building serviced by the same security company, I doubt they will even be able to open their mouths. Those with Elis contracts in those office buildings will inevitably be retold this story. Not that that will persuade companies to switch service provider, but certainly next time Elis underperforms their customer’s tolerance may be that much smaller.

The security guard informed me, as she did to all other offices, fuming at the episode and all companies in the building will no doubt be retelling this story (again to the disadvantage of Elis that not only do they not know who’s talking about this but also when they will talk about it – a mere reference to Elis, the service they provide, their competition or any reference to poor service will bring about The Elis Story.

The companies will talk to companies who talk to companies. So what did the salesperson accomplish in 40 minutes? Incalculable damage. If you think I’m being dramatic, ask Comcast (nearly 700,000 views in 3 weeks) and AOL (nearly 300,000 views not to mention a special appearance on WNBC). Word of mouth is one of THE most powerful methods of unfiltered communication wrapped in trust & transparency presently associated to those you believe most – your friends & colleagues.

Luckily the video and audio footage from the security cameras is not available to anyone as it would no doubt have the hallmarks of a YouTube blockbuster, including police!

Posted by Nuno Machado Lopes in customer (dis)service ,viral marketing ,why do they do that?
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