Monday, 30 August 2010

Bad news can be inspiring

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Posterous who I have a (totally unused) blog account with. The email was a very well worded apology that their servers had been hit by Denial of Service attacks and had buckled, and gone down. They came up again an hour or so later, but it seems the Posterous team and users continued to fight major problems for the rest of the week.

Now I don't actually use my Posterous account so I really didn't care, but the email caught my eye because it was such a brilliant use of 15 lines of text. The email came from the CEO and he used the space to apologise to his customers, tell them how hard they worked to fix the problem, and advertise the solutions they have found which make Posterous even stronger and better than before.

So far so smart. But it gets smarter. The CEO finished the missive by saying that he had 'never been prouder' of the Posterous team. He went on to name 3 of the key protagonists (Garry, Vince and Jackson) who had busted their guts, working nights and weekends and pointed out exactly what their contribution had been. Amazing! Remember this is in a letter to customers, not an internal pat-on-the-back email.

Beyond being a nice thing to do, this is such an astute move. Sachin Agarwal has turned what sounds like a hideous and demoralising week for his team, where one thing after another went wrong, into a complete victory. He has made them the heroes of the Posterous story and in doing so further embedded their personal involvement with the company. As a customer of course, I'm nothing but impressed. It sounds like they have a great team, they work together well, they know their stuff etc... In other words, this short, clever piece of communication satisfies every stakeholder.

Do you know of other examples of companies using a bad week at work to inspire their employees? Or companies who name and fame their employees to their customers when they've gone above and beyond? Do you do this in your company? Tell us your stories...