In 2012, as football fans across the country lined up in front of their flat screens to watch Super Bowl XLVI, a team of marketers from Coca-Cola prepared for kickoff of the Polar Bowl. Promoted during and prior to the game on Facebook, Twitter, and through traditional media advertising, the Polar Bowl was a live stream featuring animated Polar Bears reacting in real time to the game and commercials. The marketing team was strategically positioned in a control room where they could easily respond to any issues.
At the beginning of the game, the team estimated 300,000 viewers would log onto the Polar Bowl microsite for an average of 2.5 minutes each to catch a glimpse of the bears in action. Much to the team’s surprise, the audience grew exponentially throughout the game. The nine extra servers the team added during the game still could not accommodate demand, resulting in a seven second delay for some users and a complete crash of the site for others. Viewers voiced their disappointment on social media, “@CocaCola can’t watch the polar bears. Keep getting a site down for maintenance error. FAIL! #GameDayPolarBears.” Despite their best estimates, the Coca-Cola team was not fully prepared for gameday.
Maybe your company isn’t shelling out $4 million for a Super Bowl commercial, but there are plenty of other special events that may increase traffic to your website or demand for your product or services. On Election Night, the major news network websites were so overwhelmed with traffic that they took an average of 50 seconds to load. A raging flu season led to unprecedented demand for cold and flu remedies at drug stores. Maybe you are announcing a new product at a big tradeshow and driving reporters and industry insiders to your website for details. Whatever your business, be prepared for contingencies and unexpected demand to ensure a seamless and pleasant customer experience to all who express interest.
First, make sure you are following best practices for optimal high traffic delivery, including caching, load balancing and database replication. Can your current hosting service handle super high demand? If not, follow the example of Coca-Cola and seek out an outside host who is used to handling this type of short-term high-demand traffic. Next, make sure your customer service team is ready to answer questions through all available mediums: phone, email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Your team must be kept informed in real time of any problems and pending solutions so they can intelligently respond to inquiries in an efficient manner. The makers of Cold-EZEE were able to quickly ramp up manufacturing as soon as the flu epidemic became evident, staying ahead of the curve and avoiding a shortage of their in-demand product.
At NBRI, we recommend using a customer satisfaction survey to see how well your customers think you are doing at anticipating their needs. Resurveying periodically allows you to measure the impact of your improvement initiatives. Contact us today to get started!