Sometimes You Have a Bad Day


My family and I attended one of the most amazing weddings in New Jersey this June. My parents flew in on American Airlines, I flew in on my old friend, Southwest Airlines and my sister tried a new airline – JetBlue. I’ve not yet had that the pleasure of travelling on JetBlue, but my pal Smitty is a pilot for the airline, so they enjoy a positive mindshare due to our friendship.

Curiously, I asked my sister, Laura, her thoughts of the airline. “It’s fine.” I responded “It’s fine? That’s it!? Don’t they have satellite radio and tv for each seat and new planes?” She agreed that those amenities were all present and nice. As she explained, her issue was her flight attendant or specifically, the attitude of her flight attendant.
During Laura’s flight, the perks of JetBlue were all agreeable and welcomed. Sadly, her first JetBlue brand experience came off as flat as a day old Coke. The flight attendant, as the face of the company, turned a potentially remarkable experience into one that was just passable. It was no longer about the technology and the conveniences for my sister but her emotional connection to the airline because of one flight attendant’s attitude. She moved safely and comfortably from one part of the country to another and that was about it. There was no excitement surrounding her experience. This is not to say that JetBlue isn’t a great airline with passionate people, it just happened that my sister wasn’t able to tell a great story about them due to this.
We have all had similar experiences to those my sister had. Our expectations of a brand can be different from the actual experience due to the interactions with a person. Is it possible that this flight attendant was usually fantastic and was simply having a bad day? You bet. It happens to you and to the best of your people. Is it possible that this flight attendant had an attitude that was not fitting for the brand and culture of the company? Potentially. There are simply not enough facts to determine the answer. Considerations can be made, though to reduce these potential branding issues. As Zappos and Rackspace know, it is critically important to your company and brand experience to hire the right people that fit the culture which helps provide a consistent brand image. To take it a step further, companies can build the right teams and systems to support those people that project your brand image.
Anticipate bad days, because unfortunately, negatives in life happen. How can you develop your team to further care for one another so that when those unexpected days pop up, your team is ready to pick up the slack for the member of the team? If procedures aren’t in place, will you take this opportunity to help tow the line for the team? You can lend a hand and share an encouraging word. It makes the world a better place, it builds community between you and your team as well as goodwill for the day you might need a helping hand. I challenge you to do more than your share.
photo by SpackleToe

So Much Culture, Boy George Is Envious – Zappos

tony hsieh and nan palmero.jpg

Yesterday, a tweet from Mark Ruddock, CEO of Viigo got me thinking about corporate culture.  He said “Playing with Android all weekend … finding myself intrigued by the way corporate cultures are reflected in their products.”  He went on to say “UX (user experience) lacks holistic finesse of iPhone … and core operations (such as eMail) lack UX efficiency of BlackBerry…many facets beautifully engineered behind the scenes … however I have a real sense it was built by geeks for geeks”

I thought these were great points.  Whether you understand what Mark tweeted, the part that stuck out was he could tell the culture of the company simply from an inanimate object.  You likely feel the same way when you pick up a MacBook Pro.  You know that Apple cares about aesthetics, they care about materials, user experience and quality.  Even if your company is service based, your customers can still feel the culture as they interact with the people in your company.

I toured Zappos back in January.  Zappos started life as a shoe company but chose to be a retailer in general, the main thread holding it all together was service.  It showed.  Every room we walked into, the Zappos folks would stop what they were doing, bring out noise makers, clap, or stand up and greet us.  It was a small gesture, but I will forever have a special appreciation for their example of quality service.  Their corporate culture was amazing, contagious and unforgettable.  Yes, I’m also a customer and have received world-class service, too.

Why bother talking about culture at all?  Because your company is going to have one whether you’re doing anything about it or not.  My suggestion is that you make conscious decisions to make your culture remarkable.  If you don’t, the culture is going to be what it becomes and that may or may not be a good thing.  Having made a decision on what your company culture is the first step.  The next step?  Tell your people what the culture is, then develop core values, a purpose and a brand promise that all support this culture.  When you do this, it makes the culture easier to understand and to spread, especially to new hires.  Further, it helps those in the company make the right decisions when facing tough obstacles.  Go on, make your culture remarkable.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the photo, that’s Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.  He takes pictures with famous folks and does bunny ears.  So, naturally, I asked.

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