UX Magazine

Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)
Article No. 130 March 1, 2007

No Business Is Perfect

Is it unrealistic for us to expect businesses to be perfect? Are we setting ourselves up for disappointment by expecting businesses to flawlessly deliver every single time? As customers, are we expecting perfection when perfection is unattainable? Is that fair of us?

I’m not trying to make excuses for when businesses fail us. But failure happens. No business is perfect. Yet, we seem to expect businesses to be perfect all the time. One frustrating experience with a company’s customer service rep sets many of us off into a rage against that business. One misstep by a company spoils everything for many of us. A series of cancelled flights and thousands of stranded customers can trigger a major backlash. (Yep, I’m talking JetBlue here.)

JetBlue messed 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 perfect?

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. Time will tell if JetBlue can make the good-to-great leap.

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Comments

35
35

Another question could be: “What is perfect?”

What perfection is to one person is imperfection to another. Everyone is different and so the best thing to do is expect unexpected outcomes.

In terms of design… you need to read your audience’s imperfections and expectations. Interpret them with your imperfect expectations/goals and some how come up with a perfect solution. Oh, but then the printer did not guillotine it correctly.

Better luck next time :)

39
31

While no airline (or business) is perfect JetBlue has built a brand that leads customers to expect more from them than other carriers. When they behaved like a big carrier and left people on the runway for 10 hours it was particularly devastating. If this had happened to another airline would it have been so shocking?

If you build a brand that stands for more, that puts users first, it can benefit you. But when mistakes happen (and they will) the fall is so much greater.

I think JetBlue is being unfairly judged. They did everything right after the debacle. Most airlines would not have accepted responsibility or would have shifted blame. JetBlue took full responsibility. In time they will prosper but there will be some turbulence before that (sorry I had to).

30
34

that’s A LOT of capital letter emphasis.

29
32

that’s A LOT of capital letter emphasis.

32
38

While no airline (or business) is perfect JetBlue has built a brand that leads customers to expect more from them than other carriers. When they behaved like a big carrier and left people on the runway for 10 hours it was particularly devastating. If this had happened to another airline would it have been so shocking?

If you build a brand that stands for more, that puts users first, it can benefit you. But when mistakes happen (and they will) the fall is so much greater.

I think JetBlue is being unfairly judged. They did everything right after the debacle. Most airlines would not have accepted responsibility or would have shifted blame. JetBlue took full responsibility. In time they will prosper but there will be some turbulence before that (sorry I had to).

30
40

Another question could be: “What is perfect?”

What perfection is to one person is imperfection to another. Everyone is different and so the best thing to do is expect unexpected outcomes.

In terms of design… you need to read your audience’s imperfections and expectations. Interpret them with your imperfect expectations/goals and some how come up with a perfect solution. Oh, but then the printer did not guillotine it correctly.

Better luck next time :)