The blogosphere is the perfect place to champion consumer rights and shine a light on wrong-doings. We've seen a great example of this over the last couple of weeks regarding the JetBlue kerfuffle. A flight from New York's JFK to Cancún was stranded on the tarmac for nine hours because of an ice storm. The problem compounded with further cancellations and very poor communications on JetBlue's part.
JetBlue CEO David Neeleman later said he was "humiliated and mortified" by their mismanagement. However, all that the passengers got in return was a refund and a free round-trip flight. Hardly appropriate compensation for a lost day.
Much media hoo-ha and blogosphere meltdown followed, resulting in Neeleman announcing the introduction of a "Passenger Bill of Rights".
I totally agreed with Seth Godin's analysis that what was needed here was an overwhelming show of remorse and an immediate and magnified compensation offer, suggesting, "giving each person 40 free round trip tickets. Or maybe 50. More than any person could use for a long, long while. Let them fly with as many friends as they like until they've used up 50 seats."
Instead of the passengers pouring out their angst to anyone who'd listen or point a microphone or camera in their direction, the passengers would likely have shrugged off the experience as a snafu and would have gushed about JetBlue's generosity. I would have!
We have 2 experiences of this:
1. We produced a training video for our regular client UK fashion retailer Dorothy Perkins on how to deal with customer complaints. When a customer complains, they've built up a head of steam before doing it. Staff are empowered to deal with this with a show of generosity, for example immediately giving them a gift voucher "for their inconvenience". This immediately defuses a potential situation, and you can bet the customer will tell their friends about this generosity - and it also guarantees their return (to spend the voucher) leading to them thinking they've got a bargain (money off).
2. We screwed up the delivery of a short-run duplication of DVDs to a client. We immediately told the client about the problem, and told them that because of it being our error we wouldn't be charging them for the duplication at all. The result? The client, who could have been unhappy with us, recommended us to her colleague and we've had two subsequent jobs from them.
A magnified display of remorse doesn't actually actually have to cost much (the latter example maybe cost us £200 on a £20,000 job), but to a client it not only displays that the apology is sincere, it shows that the supplier really cares.
"What do you make of this country in a week that we see that the Federal Court ruled that prisoners in Guantanamo bay have no rights to access to evidence and that we can keep them there in a dungeon for ever, but the people who were on Jet Blue for nine hours - that we need a Bill of Rights for...."