A Textbook Example of Deliberately Breaking Promises to Customers


The headlines

Go Daddy, the prominent Internet domain registry, is still supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act… sort of, kind of [source: ZDNet]

Due to the company's ambiguous stance on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), hosting and domain registrar company Go Daddy has lost more than 37,000 domains in the past two days. [source: VentureBeat]

An effort by GoDaddy customers to boycott the domain registrar over its support for Hollywood-backed copyright legislation has sparked allegations of foul play. [source: CBSNews]

The Webs registrars weave

It's actually not just GoDaddy that behaves this way. They just got caught with their pants down.

Deliberately breaking a promise made to customers increases the brand dissonance and decreases trust, which means they are going to need to trade more to get your business. Brand is more valuable than flow — you can get more flow for your brand dollar.

Yet companies continue to increase risk by doing stupid things like letting a customer hang for a meager $4.99 charge.

I had a similar situation with another registrar a couple of weeks ago, which is what led me to reach out to the community to compile a useful guide to buying Web domains. You will note there are several registrars on the list, yet very few are companies people would actually recommend.

A sin of omission is still a sin

In my case the registrar omitted to follow through on a request clearly stated repeatedly (supposedly on a recorded line). Then customer service never admitted to the company's lack of action, and subsequently dragged its feet on correcting the error of their ways invoking security measures.

They must think customers are morons. I'm quite familiar with all kinds of managed services, collocation and hosting procedures. I wrote guides and tracked information on those topics for years.

Saying "I'm sorry you feel that way" is not an apology. Don't just stand there and babble. Do something to fix the problem. Who writes those scripts? There is such a thing as a sin of omission.

Let it go daddy

Newly appointed Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman has yanked his company’s support for SOPA.

And then the ambiguity began,

Fighting online piracy is of the utmost importance, which is why Go Daddy has been working to help craft revisions to this legislation–but we can clearly do better. It’s very important that all Internet stakeholders work together on this. Getting it right is worth the wait. Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it.

Which statement does Adelman really mean? Do customers not read between the lines? How many decide not to bother moving? How many take a "wait and see" approach? The company picked a very visible fight.

Is there a fresh supply of new customers coming in forever? Eventually word gets around, people compare notes, and we're in the season of making promises… and renewing domains. It gets to a point where the pain to move is lower than that to stay.

Customers get to make a statement of their own with action. They can take control of their promises to their clients and customers in turn by doing something.

What happens next? Get an agency to develop a new blitz campaign? Run deep discounts to lure people in or back, lock the door and throw away the key? How long before you run out of marketing budgets with this kind of shopping spree?

Instituting an adversarial relationship with customers is the culmination of bad ideas. Forget "best practices" (or what others are getting away with), it's not your father's competitive environment anymore.

Companies need to develop the most practice in speaking clearly and acting appropriately in their relationship with customers though every decision they make. Deliberately breaking promises weakens a business and can prove costly.