Mike Lazaridis of RIM Shows the Right Way to Start an Apology

Yesterday I wrote about the huge marketing opportunity that Netflix squandered by sending out an impersonal message to announce they’d not split the company in two.

Today, RIM founder, Mike Lazaridis issued a video apology for service interruptions to Blackberry users around the world. I’ve delivered this same message running a secure, high-reliability service that disrupted business with unexpected downtime. You have to communicate regret, an appreciation of mission, that you know how to improve things, and then set expectations surrounding a still unfolding situation.

Though he did a good job in this phase, RIM was slow out of the blocks. My friend, Tom Catalini, listed some lessons he believes RIM and all of us could learn from their listless early response.  Of course, the apology must be expressed in actions that lead to improvement and active communication along the way. This is good act has to be just the first of other steps.

Meanwhile, consider Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix. He doesn’t have it nearly as bad as Lazaridis. His product is working, they’ve just made a some dopey management moves that have the markets and customers scratching their heads. It really shouldn’t be a faceless marketer from “customer service” making sense of this to customers and investors.

Why does the CEO of Netflix who loves speaking and being visible, need to take a lesson on the power of video in personal communications from RIM’s founder? If there’s a lesson to be taken from RIM, perhaps its “better late than never.

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