Although I finished writing my book on Reputation Recovery over one year ago, it is always on my mind. When I find interesting tales of smart ways that companies can learn from their mistakes, I make a mental note. This morning in The New York Times, there was a fun article by writer Harry Hurt III about his time spent as a doorman on inauguration day at the DC Four Seasons Hotel. Of course, the enjoyable part was reading about all the celebs’ car doors he opened and shut like that of Aretha Franklin who sang the anthem on Tuesday. But Hurt also described the behind-the-scenes matchless training at the Four Seasons and one story hit home. The famed hotel chain has a “glitch system” whereby any employee mistake is entered immediately into a database and is discussed the next day at the group meeting. [Astounding that employees feel secure enough to enter mistakes.] The error and how to make sure it does not happen again is discussed among employees 24 hours later. Then the team goes out of their way to give the erred guest some extra TLC in the hope that the guest will soon forget.
When companies lose reputation and begin the restoration process, I advise them to go back in time to understand what happened and devise steps so that it does not recur. In addition, I describe how hospitals and the military follow After Action Reviews to better understand how mistakes happened and how they can be remedied. Although many companies do not take the time it requires to understand how they mis-stepped, it would be a wise move to take.