Sunday, February 25, 2007

From good to great to perfect?

Is it realistic for us to expect businesses to be perfect? As customers, are we expecting perfection when perfection is unattainable? Are we being unfair?

Just to be clear: I'm not making excuses for when businesses and brands fail us. But failure is part of business life. No brand is perfect. Yet, we seem to expect perfection 24/7. One poor encounter with a customer service rep sets many of us off into a rage against that brand. A badly brewed coffee will make us think twice if we should return to Starbucks. A series of cancelled flights can trigger a major backlash. (Yes, we're talking JetBlue here.)

JetBlue screwed up BIG-TIME. No doubt about it. They failed their customers in unimaginable ways. We now know JetBlue is far from perfect. But was it realistic for us to expect JetBlue to be a perfect brand?

No business is perfect. NONE. Business is a game of progress, not perfection. No business will be perfect. It's an impossibly unattainable goal. But while that goal is unattainable, the most endearing and enduring businesses seem to always aspire to reach perfection. They always make progressive steps to improve their business and how their business connects with people. Sure, they will stumble along the way. But the true measure of a company is how they recover and forge ahead making progress along the way to overcome their mistakes.

No person is perfect. NO ONE. As people we also mess up BIG-TIME. We constantly make bad decisions that harm others. We disappoint friends. We betray people’s trust. We cannot achieve perfection. Doesn't mean we should give up and not try. The most endearing and enduring people I know make progress every day to improve themselves and their relationships with others. And when people see progress being made, they are willing to forgive mistakes.

Thank goodness people are so forgiving. Otherwise, I wouldn't have any friends. I've pissed off enough people in enough ways to not have friends. Lucky for me, people are forgiving. I still have some friends. Lost some along the way—but the ones I still have are great.

I think JetBlue can recover. I think customers have it in their hearts to forgive them for messing up BIG-TIME. It'll take time though as well as diligent focus from every JetBlue employee to make progress in earning back trust and friendship from customers.

In GOOD TO GREAT, Jim Collins says one factor that determines which companies go from being good to being great is how they deal with adversity. He says that many of the good-to-great companies he studied faced a company-defining crisis. According to Collins, what separates the winners from the losers is how they confronted and responded to the crisis …

“The good-to-great companies faced just as much adversity as the comparison companies, but responded to that adversity differently. They hit the realities of their situation head-on. As a result, they emerged from adversity even stronger.
JetBlue is considered a good airline. How they confront and respond to this crisis will determine if they can ever progress to becoming a great airline. The apology letter from David Neeleman was a good start. Time will tell if JetBlue can make the good-to-great leap.


Tiffany said...

I have got to say...this was a real dope blog...simply because it convicts everyone, or at least should, to give mercy to mankind so that others can give it to you in return. I think if we applied the same forgiveness and awareness to those around us that no one is perfect...we may just tap into the realm of contentment & fulfillment in ourselves as well as in others.
I once heard someone say..."we actually pay the gym to give us pain but only to make us better." Its true, we literally pay someone to cause physical pain because we know if we endure that pain the outcome means we get in shape.The only way you can be on the rise and be used to your potential is by actually getting in shape. Getting in shape can mean hitting some bumps in the road, making some mistakes and just rolling with the punches. I think anyone can be successful or be used to their potential when they embrace their mistakes and desire to learn something from them. It never hurts but only builds when we give people mercy simply because it will take away the focus of our imperfections as well. I definitely think the only way a business can perfect its customer service or build its clientele is by trial and error. Its like a bruise, the only way we can eliminate the blood clot is by brutally pressing and purging the blood back into flowage...soon the bruise is gone...and you're back in the game!

The Noosance said...

How do you think Denny's has fared? Did the commercials with African Americans elicit forgiveness and deem the company great for their new color-blind magnanimosity?