What the Washington Redskins can teach us about customer service

By Posted in - Blog & Crisis Communications & word of mouth marketing on September 10th, 2013 0 Comments

We watch a lot of football in our house. Go Clemson Tigers, Virginia Tech Hokies and as my husband would tell you, most of all, “Hail to the Redskins!”

Last night, Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III, quarterback for the Washington Redskins, took his much heralded return to the field after last year’s heartbreaking torn ACL and MCL injuries. Ever since the injury happened last season, fans and sports pundits alike wondered whether or not he’d be able to return to greatness on the field.

Here's the legion of Redskins fans who live at my house!

Here’s the legion of Redskins fans who live at my house!

RG3, as he’s known, insisted he was ready. After what had to be one of the most hyped returns in recent history, RG3 took to the field. I‘ll let you connect to today’s USA Today article to learn whether or not the Redskins pulled it out or not.

But in watching the game last night with my husband, I wondered if all of the media coverage and analysis of RG3 set him up to fail? Could he have ever lived up to the hype expected of him? Or should the coverage have been a little more tempered?

As consumers, we tend to root for the underdog. We love to see people fall from grace, but then pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and become successful again. It’s the American Way, right?

But sometimes things happen. Shipments go awry, products fail, customer service communication breaks down. And yet, customers are incredibly forgiving – usually – if you take the time to communicate with them about expectations, and work to rectify a problem.

Now, I’m not advocating you prep your customers for the possibility that someday, somehow, they might have a negative experience with your brand. But I am saying to talk to them like people. One to one, mano y mano. Explain what happened. Offer to correct the problem. Try harder next time. It might sound simplistic, but by setting your customers’ expectations, you give them the respect they deserve. And many will stay on as your cheerleaders, even when the chips are down.

In the post-game interviews last night, RG3 and Coach Mike Shanahan took full responsibility for the outcome of the game. They admitted where they were lacking in skill, and committed to try harder in the next game.

As the current “face” of the Washington Redskins, RG3 will still probably have a lot of explaining to do on the sports talk shows this week. But what I like most about him is that he takes responsibility for his own playing – he doesn’t pass the buck and he doesn’t blame other external factors on his performance. He knows he has a lot riding on his shoulders, and he seems more than willing to carry the load. He wants the fans to stick with him and his team as he continues to heal and improve on the field.

Brands can learn a lot from RG3 and how he handles a loss. With grace, dignity and a full commitment to improve.

I know I’ll be cheering for him on Sundays and rooting for his continued comeback. Hail to the Redskins!! 🙂



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