My friend Patrik works as a business developer at one of Gothenburg's major IT companies. Earlier this spring he and a colleague registered to attend an ambitious (and quite expensive) one week course called Outside-In to be held in Stockholm under the auspices of the BP Group. The guru on the subject, Steve Towers, would during the course teach them how to become better at "Successful customer outcomes", i.e. how to better communicate with their customers, minimize any occasion where customer communication can go wrong and always make sure that the customer is satisfied.
The fact that the course started on the 6th of june, the Swedish National day and a national holiday, was a bit of an annoyment, but it was an international education company with an American lecturer, so of course they could not demand from the organizers to consider such a detail.
The two colleagues travelled to Stockholm, where the course would be held, already Sunday the 5th to be able to be at the course location in time Monday morning. They checked in at the hotel where they would be staying during the week.
On Monday morning, it proved to be strangely difficult to get in to the course venue. A helpful porter tried to unlock the door and shut off the alarm, but the place was empty. Eventually, it turned out that Steve Towers had cancelled his participation, and that the BP Group had forgotten to inform the students.
This absurd fact brought a moment of amusement, an amusement that soon turned into a state of big disappointment, as the two colleagues realized how much money they lost due to the lack of communication and the organisational mishaps. They had sacrificed a week of customer commitments that had been cancelled due to the course, travel and accommodation expenses – not to mention two sunny holidays of relaxation – without getting as much as a tiny bit of new communication skills in return.
However, the disappointment turned into outraged anger as the BP Group did not show any understanding or interest in how they felt about the whole washout. Only after several reminders they got an answer from BP Group. It read: ”Sure, we did wrong, but you should have checked everything up in advance yourself. Was it not obvious to you that you can not arrange a course on a national holiday?” Patrik and his colleague were offered a new opportunity to participate in the course during the fall and a fraction of the cost of travel as a consolation. That's it.
”We have no obligations – have you not read the fine print at the bottom of our website? as the BP Group so prettily put it. Steve Towers himself sent word through his Swedish representative that he had no time to talk to them.
But hey, what was the focus of this course again? Oh yes – how to better communicate with your customers, minimize any occasion where customer communication can go wrong and always make sure that the customer is satisfied.
Now I wonder if Steve Towers will have the time to learn the explosive force of a story like this one can have in social media? With the technological opportunities for dissemination of today, you should not be able to get away with such a total, what would you call it – the total failure of your core values, followed by a seldom-witnessed arrogant attitude.
Or what do you think?
Thanks to Pelle for the translation.