When IT Hits the Fan

By | Category: Lead Story, Strategic Planning

What do many companies do when they have an unexpected problem that arises that negatively affects their clients? They hide. They cover it up. They blame it on their suppliers. They blame it on the weather.

Let me take you back to 2007. I remember a two specific companies in which I was pleasantly surprised with their response to a difficult situation. JetBlue went from the darlings of the airlines that everyone loved to the airline to hate when they left people stranded on runways for up to 8 hours and 1,096 flights were cancelled. JetBlue’s CEO David Neeleman didn’t hide, didn’t blame others or blame this on the weather, even though the Northeast was in the middle of a big snowstorm when it happened.

He stepped up to the plate and took responsibility for the problem and the inconvienence it caused his customers. He said “What I’ve learned about these situations is you come out and explain what happened, and explain what you’re doing to make sure it never happens again. That’s the right thing to do. If you try to hide stuff and twist the truth, you don’t come across as credible. I decided to do this, and no one is telling me what to do.”

The other example was online marketer, Rich Schefren. He was supposed to deliver a live video feed of a new presentation, From Startup to Freedom, but ended up delivering an older presentation. I received an email from him titled My Confession, How I Screwed Up. In the email he explained that due to moving his business to a new office he was functioning on catnaps and Red Bull to deliver his weekend seminar. He and his staff made a decision to present the old material since he was already familiar with it, and in his current sleep deprived state he decided that he would not do justice to his new material. Again, Rich didn’t hide, he simply told the facts of what his situation was and apologized for it and admitted that he was not proud of it.

As entrepreneurs we know IT is going to hit the fan every once in a while. But if we take responsibility and be honest with our clients we can avoid making the situation worse and gain our clients respect as well.

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