With the technology making rapid advances, often companies are found to be in a rush and look at speedy go-to-market policies. All they want is to do is create a one-upmanship, be a first mover, garner a competitive edge, introduce new products, launch into new markets, and tap new customers. It’s a gold rush for them. Now or never.
What triggers me to think about this is the recent incidences of electric vehicles (EVs) catching fire, batteries being blasted leading to deaths, and recalling thousands of EVs by the good big brands with a legacy and the new and younger ones alike. An industry that has just taken birth in India, still in its very much of infancy, is being clouded with issues that have the potential to destroy the image of not only the concerned market players but also the EV industry itself.
Maybe it’s a phenomenon that reappears whenever any important market is going through a disruption. I distinctly recall when it was the first-ever foray into the telecom sector by a leading oil and gas company in India there were glitches for over a year or two. In the calls, in services, in products, in billings, in customer service experience, and many touchpoints.
Of course testing, any new technology platform is a norm, and meeting stringent quality standards for any company is expected to create products that are meant to deliver not only customer satisfaction but also delight. A product developed in one country may not be suitable in another country with a highly different geographical environment. It is required to be properly tweaked, backed by insights of R&D, and followed by rigorous testing before reaching the final audience.
Most of these outcomes need to be well-documented and analyzed for their consumer impacts way ahead of the product outreach via research. While the product may not expect negative and disturbing outcomes in a usual scenario, it is always best to be prepared for them.
Anticipating the dangers ahead of the launch of new products and giving detailed guidelines and pieces of training to the end-users is a good idea. It can be an extra effort for the company and might drain some additional resources (including significant financials) too but eventually, it will help their customers deal with any crisis better if it happens.
Corporate communications teams can be pulled in much before addressing such issues instead of throwing them into dousing fires when they erupt and damage their reputation. The companies can have internal teams and committees, where their corporate communications members are involved and updated in the product development process via briefings and updates.
While a product launch roadmap is being prepared anticipation of threats arising from adverse events can be chalked out along with a plan to address them. In parallel customer training and guidelines on possible threats can be prepared in thorough detail and shared with customers.
Some training programmes, manuals & literature, and guidance especially around issues of threat to life can be developed and delivered to the consumers in case of new technologies. Corporate communications teams can also help in identifying and learning from the global experiences and best practices and applying them.
While technological advances are always aimed at enhancing the quality of life of human beings, there may be challenges when a new technology is launched for mass use. Sometimes may be hidden dangers that we may discover only after it’s launched, while for some we can be prepared ahead of the launch.
A close and well-knit arrangement between product development, marketing, research & development, and corporate communications well ahead of any new technology launch can mean a lot in terms of prevention of any potential crisis for a company.
Avoiding a crisis to happen is always better than managing it!
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