I will start by quoting the entire e-letter I received from MarketingProfs:
You probably know the approach pattern at your home airport very well. So what would you think if your plane were about to touch down when it suddenly jerked skyward, overshot the runway and headed out toward the ocean? Even non-nervous flyers would know something was wrong. Near collision? Problem with the running gear? Inexperienced pilot who needs a do-over?
A MarketingProfs team member experienced this scenario not long ago, and sat patiently waiting for an explanation from the flight deck. Anything at all, if only to confirm that everything was under control. But nada, zip, zilch. It took a full ten minutes—after circling around in a bizarre pattern—for the pilot to give the non-explanation that the plane would be on the ground in a few minutes. Our colleague left the flight seriously pissed off at the lack of communication.
It's never fun to deliver bad news. But in a post at his blog, Tom Peters emphatically underscores the need to keep clients and stakeholders fully informed of "a delay (wee or grand) or glitch (wee or grand)." It's better for everyone to know what's going on, and what you're doing about it, than to leave them seething in the dark.
"Make the call," he writes. "And if you have … let someone know about a glitch … call 'em again to update the status of the fix, or relay the sad but honest news that the fix is more complex than first imagined." It's Marketing Inspiration we can all use.
Coincidentally, I had a very similar experience last week. While flying from Hanoi to Beijing, my pilot made the usual announcement that we were about to land, seats up, tray tables stowed, yadda, yadda, yadda. We descended through the clouds, the houses got larger, then ... the engines revved tremendously, we rose up, up, up above the clouds, and continued flying for 30 more minutes in a straight line before landing. What the heck happened? Did we almost land in the wrong place? I'd like to know. Sadly, not a word was spoken - no explanation - nothing.
And a coworker just told me of queueing up for airport security in "the longest line I have ever seen". He was SURE he would miss his flight. Others in line with him were clearly stressed.
Each of our B2B customers are in slightly similar situations with us - they want to know something, are wondering about an issue, or feel that something happened that they would like to know about. Just like in the situations above, it's the "not knowing" that causes the stress. In the case of the long security line, my friend was shocked to see how fast the line moved. Ultimately he was pleasantly surprised and had nothing to worry about. But, for five minutes, he suffered totally unnecessary stress. In our customers' cases, you and I probably know a lot about the behind-the-scenes facts (things a customer can't see or know). When all is well, we know it, and do business as usual. But ... the customer doesn't know what we know.
As B2B Marcom professionals, we need to see the world as our customers do - so we can create communications to reduce stress and to optimize understandings and alignment.
Image: airguideonline website