Consumer affairs – Giving disaster a postive spin …

I never cease to be amazed at the power of marketing, To illustrate, let me tell you one true story, and I’ll not name any names, but if you live in the UK (as I do) then you will recognize the organization in question.

This relates to a mobile telecommunications company, so I better give you a quick overview on how things usually hang together inside. Basically you need three systems (I’m keeping this simple, it often gets a lot more complex) these are:

  • A customer facing solution, this is where orders and updated are captured
  • A provisioning system … the actual mobile system itself that activates / deactivates SIM cards and also captures a list of events (basically it keeps a record of all the calls and texts)
  • A billing system … this takes all the events from the provisioning system and charges you … what is monthly allowance, what is beyond that and so bills you, and tracks payments made, payments due etc…

OK, thats it all in a nutshell. Now, our story relates to the early days of one specific telco that found they had a huge problem, their billing system was not correctly wired up to the provisioning system, and so they were unable to capture and handle text message events. Net effect, while they could bill for calls, they had no way of doing the same for text messages.

As is usual, there was much panic and many blame-storming meetings with a lot of robust anglo-saxon phrases being tossed about … apparently under the covers things were in such a mess that it would take them six months to resolve. Turns out that the true heroes of the moment would be the marketing department. They proposed the launch of a massive marketing campaign to tell everybody about this.

Sounds crazy … but it actually turned out to be a very smart move … why?

Well, basically they ran an ad campaign that went along the lines of, “Sign up with us now and we will give you free text messages for the next six months”.

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