To entrepreneurs who want to capture public attention, and increase sales for their respective companies, here are some words of caution concerning product development and promotional campaigns of various sorts. Here, too, are my professional recommendations about recognizing the avoidable mistakes that can otherwise result in a product recall – which can bankrupt a business, ruin a brand, generate negative news and bad publicity, and cost an organization the loyalty of its consumers and the respect of its critics.
Releasing a New Product
I raise this topic because, when it comes to releasing a new product or hosting a product giveaway, companies too often outsource quality control to groups that have no interest in this matter. And yet, if there is a faulty product – never mind one that results in a fatality – then the business that stamps that product with its logo or the brand that dismisses safety for the false allure of sales, will suffer lasting harm. Take, for instance, the economic losses – and the rejection by customers around the globe – involving the problems with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7; the phones’ batteries generate excessive heat, igniting fires and explosions. Queue major upset, serious bodily damage to affected consumers, and irreparable damage to the brand.
The company continues to forfeit millions of its consumers to its chief competitor, Apple, while ceding millions more to manufacturers of other Android handsets. It surrenders its previously positive reputation for excellent design and exceptional performance; it squanders the dividends of word-of-mouth marketing, and succumbs to divisive media coverage; it supplants billions of advertising dollars with billions of words – none of them good – that destroy a brand’s health and longevity.
In my role as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Index Promotions, I understand that no brand is better than the safety and quality of the products they produce. Our company, which designs and manufactures custom promotional products, represents a variety of the world’s top brands including Burger King, Macy’s, Aflac, and MetLife, among many others. Products are among these brand’s biggest marketing and revenue drivers and should anything malfunction or cause harm to a consumer, it will inevitably incite major damages. Therefore, we have put in place rigorous safety and quality protocols to ensure both our company and those we represent issue the safest products to the public. In fact, to date, we have never had a product recalled.
Quality as an Integral Part
What should businesses do to ensure there is little or no risk of a product recall, you might ask? Make design and development, from the very start of this process, a top priority. This subject is non-negotiable; it should not be – it must never become – a secondary concern.
Quality must be an integral part of the process from start to finish. The culture must allow engineers and inspectors to be visible and vocal agents regarding product development. These individuals provide the necessary oversight to identify, isolate and neutralize any threats that may arise. They have the authority to reject products without fear of reprisals from executives, or resistance by the companies that hire these sources of independence.
In addition, companies should use third-party testing labs to verify the integrity of all products. These groups have an overriding mission: to scrutinize every product before that item is available to the public. That means some products may not meet the threshold of quality sufficient to sustain a brand’s image or an organization’s commitment to safety. If they don’t, they need to be redesigned until they do.
These protocols are an important check against the dangers of corporate harm and the vulnerabilities that confront consumers worldwide. Companies can lessen the probability of a product recall, thanks to a combination of due diligence and a rigorous defense of standards. This strategy will earn the trust of the public, while it will secure the legitimacy of businesses big or small.
Sometimes making mistakes is necessary in order to grow and expand, but this does not apply when it comes to Product quality. Take queue from Samsung and ensure you put the appropriate protocols in place before an adverse event. You’ll be grateful you did.