Providing responsive customer service is a cornerstone of marketing. But there’s a caveat — don’t fall prey to the “Tyranny of One.”
Cord Silverstein recently shared a Crisis Communications anecdote about a Capstrat PR client, a 150-year old bank. A Top 25 YouTube user uploaded a video attacking the bank after he had a bad customer service experience, which drew 138,000 views in the first hour. The story had a happy ending, after the client followed Cord’s advice to reach out to the disgruntled influencer.
Beyond solving the PR problem, I wonder if the bank looked into whether it should fix the underlying operational problem (the branch insisted on an extra-long hold because the 20-something customer was depositing a six-figure YouTube check from Google and the teller assumed it was fake).
BUT, and this is a big but: There’s a risk of over-reacting. Ben McConnell at Church of the Customer dubs this over-correction “The Tyranny of One.” In describing how a shipping store no longer provides packing tape after one customer cut herself on the tape dispenser and sued the store, Ben writes:
One customer’s misfortune inspired an unnecessary rule at the expense of 10,000 others who aren’t clumsy and litigious. … More rules are proportional to less convenience. More rules = fewer customers. You either let the tyranny of one customer influence your organization, or not.
I’ve seen this before, when one person complains and the company freaks out by creating widespread new policies that stem from an exceptional situation. If I were the original YouTube guy, I’d assume the extra-long hold was because I don’t typically deposit six-figure checks, not that it was age discrimination. (But I’d appreciate your help testing that hypothesis — make the $100K checks payable to “Karl Sakas”).
What do you think? Have you run into the “Tyranny of One” as either a customer or a marketer?