posted on August 21, 2007 07:37
Yesterday the Consumer Association of Ireland published the letter they sent to MCD after receiving complaints from hundreds of ticket holders for the Barbara Streisand gig in Celbridge. The letter seeks a refund in addition to compensation for the complainants that contacted them.
Will MCD cough up? Many doubt it and that what awaits us, once they send in their reply to the CAI, is another round of phone-ins to Joe Duffy featuring some of the punters in question, the CEO of the CAI and a PR person from MCD going on the defensive with a list of banal talking points. And then it'll all quieten down, until the next concert controversy.
Surely there is an alternative here? An opportunity for MCD to turn this around? Instead of taking a position of 'no compromise' in the face of consumer uproar and having to go on the defensive, why not take control of the conversation and turn it around to their benefit? There's many ways this could be done but here's one 5 step plan for MCD to do exactly this:
- Reply to the CAI acknowledging some shortcomings in the organisation of this particular gig that effected a small proportion of patrons and agree, as an act of goodwill, to take it on the chin and reimburse these ticket holders (limiting it to those that had contacted the CAI up to the date the CAI sent their letter). Cost? My back-of-envelope calculation says we're talking about 100k Euros.
- Ensure the report of the 'specialist committee' that MCD set up to investigate what happened at the gig (it is due to be published the week of Sept 10th) has a set of solid generic recommendations for organising & managing events of this nature.
- When the report is published issue a press release welcoming the report and accepting its recommendations in full, stating that they will be fully reflected in a new 'Customer Charter' for all MCD events, to be published by the end of 2007.
- Commit to placing the 'Customer Charter' at a visible place at all future MCD-managed events and provide a freephone customer contact service on the charter for patrons who wish to complain about any aspect of the event's organisation.
- Then invite all the other promoters in Ireland to either:
a. Draft a similar Customer Charter for their customers, or,
b. Propose the text of the MCD charter as a model for all promoters.
With this sort of approach they can, Jujutsu-like, turn what has been a PR disaster into a PR coup, one that puts its competitors on the back-foot and raises the game for the entire industry.
Update: An hour or so after this entry was first published Jim Carroll posted on his blog that Aiken Promotions have recently published a 'customer care policy' on their website. I dug around a bit in the search engines and was able to conclude (from various cached copies of the Aiken website's home page) that the 'customer care policy' was published by Aiken sometime between July 17 and Aug 3rd (i.e. just after the Streisand concert debacle). So the opportunity for MCD to lead the way on this front has been taken from them by their main competitor. The Aiken policy however I note is not complete (e.g. no customer care line in place) so there is still room for MCD to up the ante and offer a 'charter' that is far-reaching and sets a high bar for the rest of the industry.More ...