For those folks who don’t normally track the events of the Gamer community, I’d like to share a lesson that every consumer facing business should heed.  Social Media has changed the consumer landscape in an irrevocable way.  This incident demonstrates what happens to companies that don’t understand the new power of the customer.

In short, a small manufacturer hired a marketing company to promote it’s novel product.  Unfortunately, the marketing company failed to correctly handle the import paperwork, and the product was stuck in customs.  Customers who ordered the product for Christmas were not going to get their product in time. 

As you’d expect, some customers complained.  One in particular known only as “Dave.”  The marketing company made a couple of rather typical mistakes in handling the complaint.  The customer threatened to get the press and social media involved.  At that point, the company blew it.  Instead of taking a contrite and apologetic tone, offering to reduce the stress of the customer or even offering a discount on the order, the company representative sent a profane and inflammatory e-mail directly to the customer telling him, basically, to “get over it.”

That customer shared his e-mail with social media, and the storm started.  Within hours, the manufacturer has fired the marketing company.  The marketing company has been banned from at least one influential show (and my guess, the fallout won’t stop there).  The company’s image is in the toilet.  If they are still in business in a year, I will be amazed.

The business world has changed.  Customers have the power of community, and can act in groups in a way that they could never act before, at a speed that will make your head spin.  Companies who do not understand this fact will be left behind.