English: English: Mike Krahulik, co-creator of...

Don't mess with this guy. He's level headed, professional and has a wide audience. Do not mess with him.

Ocean Marketing is the focus of a lot of internet discussion, all of it bad. For those who don’t read Penny Arcade or have not seen this story I’ll recap:

Ocean Marketing represents a company who makes a really cool Game Controller.

A customer, who was dealing with a shipping delay of said controller, reached out to Ocean Marketing who handles the company’s customer support.

The man behind the helm at Ocean Marketing told the customer, ”┬áput on your big boy hat and wait it out like everyone else.”

Then it got worse.

Long story short, the customer service rep at Ocean Marketing tried to win an internet flame war (ha) and ended up mentioning PAX (“PAX East is a three-day game festival for tabletop, videogame, and PC gamers. “- according to paxsite.com) and well… The head of Pax,┬áMike Krahulik, got involved. Mike also runs http://www.pennyarcade.com, and as he said in this email thread, its pretty popular.

As you can see from the thread, the emails sent by Ocean Marketing are pretty damming. The result has been a fiasco resulting in name calling and changed twitter handles to try and manage some kind of damage control from OM’s end.

What’s even better than name dropping PAX and having Mike Krahulik get right in your face and breaking the story of your poor customer service to the gaming community?

Having the following phrase on your website’s front page: Your brand is no stronger than your reputation- and will increasingly depend on what comes up when you are Googled.

Try and Google “Ocean Marketing” right now. I’ll wait until you’re done laughing.

But the title if this blog is “lessons” from the fail- the “fail” is recorded on the Internet forever.

So how could Ocean Marketing have recovered from this situation? Well, for starters they could have avoided the situation altogether by creating a set of simple guidelines for customer service, and having a community director (like me) oversee all communications.

Codification isn’t the straight jacket it seems like and could have avoided letting this email exchange turn into the biggest failure of customer service in recent memory. But lets say the community director was drunk (Who, me?) and missed it. What could have been done?

Well for starters the community director would be fired (drinking on the job?) as well as the customer service rep. Or at least moved to a different department. Somewhere far away from the public.

A public statement owning their mistake would have helped, too. That public statement would acknowledge the fact that a mistake was made, offer reasons for the mistake (lack of oversight and basic customer service practices), an apology to their client and the customer (dave) and also a clear promise of HOW these mistakes will be avoided in the future.

To do right by their client they should have resigned from the Avenger controller account and taken their name as far away from their client as possible. People are already taking their rage out on the wrong person here- a lot of heat is being directed at Ocean Marketing, yes, but the client is suffering from people who assume the Avenger creator is to blame. He isn’t. The only mistake he made was going with a PR company whose website clearly made promises they couldn’t keep.

In fact, Ocean Marketing could have benefited from this epic gaffe by turning around, handling it right, and then engaging other businesses in the lessons they learned from poor quality control of their team members. Speaking engagements from the head of Ocean Marketing on, “What we did wrong” would be worth 50 bucks a ticket in my opinion. They could spin this, if they wanted to, into a situation where they are not the “worst example of customer service in history” but they are “the best example of how to learn and grow from a mistake”.