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Shaming of United shows saying sorry is never enough

来源:FT中文网    2017-04-12 06:04

        Oscar Munoz is “upset” about what happened on United Express flight 3411. The United Continental chief executive “deeply regrets this situation arose”. Well, of course he is and of course he does. The video of a screaming and bloodied passenger being dragged forcibly off the overbooked flight from Chicago to Louisville is upsetting, and the “situation” was highly regrettable.        奥斯卡•穆诺兹(Oscar Munoz)对联航快运(United Express) 3411号航班发生的事情感到“不安”。这位联合大陆(United Continental)首席执行官“对这一情况的出现深表遗憾”。嗯,他当然会感到不安,他当然会感到遗憾。一名尖叫并流着血的乘客被强行拖下超量预订、从芝加哥飞往路易斯维尔的航班的视频令人不快,这个“情况”非常令人遗憾。
        At first glance, it seems the path of least resistance would have been for Mr Munoz to issue a full and complete apology. I struggle, after all, to think of a case where saying sorry to a customer ever got a chief executive into more trouble than delaying doing so. But it is not quite as simple as that.        乍看之下,最小阻力路径似乎是由穆诺兹作出一个充分和完整的道歉(编者注:穆诺兹已作出“无条件的道歉”)。毕竟,我怎么也想不出有哪一个案例显示,对客户说道歉会让一个首席执行官陷入比拖延这么做更大的麻烦。但事情并不是那么简单。
        Airlines should be expert at the apology business simply because they have so much to apologise for. Lost luggage, missed connections, cancellations, poor food, inadequate legroom. When disappointment or pain is inflicted on demanding, stressed and often jet-lagged customers sitting at deoxygenated close quarters, there is bound to be a backlash.        航空公司应该是道歉专家,因为它们有这么多事情可以道歉。行李丢失、错过转机、航班取消、糟糕的食物、座位空间狭小。如果把失望或痛苦强加到已经挤在狭小且空气不好的客舱里,要求较高、压力大、往往承受着时差之苦的客户身上,难免会遭遇反弹。
        But instead of writing the manual on how, when and to whom an apology should be made, airlines are top of the list of case studies on how not to do it. United alone has a chapter to itself. Mr Munoz was only just emerging from “leggings-gate”, after the airline barred two teenage girls from flying in leggings. United pointed out the girls had infringed the dress code for the programme of free tickets it offers to employees and dependants.        但是,航空公司非但没有写出关于如何、何时以及向谁道歉的手册,反而在如何不道歉的案例研究清单上名列前茅。穆诺兹刚刚摆脱“紧身裤门”——前不久美联航曾禁止两名穿紧身裤的少女登机。美联航指出,这两名少女违反了该公司为雇员和家属提供免费机票的计划的着装要求。
        When a company violates the public’s trust, an apology can be the first step to restoring confidence. This was a lesson that most banks failed to learn after the 2008 crisis. But corporate leaders also need to take responsibility for mistakes — and sometimes responsibility is hard to attribute.        在一家公司失去公众信任后,道歉可能是恢复信心的第一步。这是多数银行在2008年金融危机后未能汲取的一个教训。但企业领导还需要为错误承担责任——而有时责任很难认定。
        Before baying for a full apology from Mr Munoz, then, let’s establish what he should apologise for. The boss’s email to staff laid far too much blame on the passenger, and not enough on the Chicago airport security officers who extracted him from the plane. He should have apologised for the mistakes for which United was accountable: the airline reportedly needed to fly four crew on flight 3411, perhaps to join another flight whose cancellation would have inconvenienced even more customers. It was, therefore, up to the airline to try to “bump” passengers before they boarded the aircraft, confining any unpleasantness to the departure gate.        那么,在厉声要求穆诺兹作出全面道歉之前,让我们先确定他应该道歉什么。这位老板发给员工的电子邮件把太多过错归咎于那名乘客,而对把乘客强行拖下飞机的芝加哥机场保安人员过于客气。他应该为美联航要承担负责的错误道歉:据报道,该航空公司需要让四名工作人员搭乘3411班机,也许是因为他们要执行另一个航班,如果那个航班被取消将给更多顾客带来不便。因此,航空公司有责任在乘客登机之前尝试阻拦他们,把任何不快经历局限在登机口。
        I strongly believe companies’ responsibility extends to the behaviour of the people who supply them and offer services under their name. But airline chief executives face the challenge that while their brand sells the entire service, many of the elements that contribute to the user’s unhappiness are out of their hands.        我强烈认为,企业的责任延伸至向它们供应和以它们的名义提供服务的人员的行为。但是航空公司首席执行官们面临的挑战是,尽管他们的品牌销售整个服务,但导致用户不快的许多元素并不在他们控制之下。
        Airlines must try, therefore: to be resilient enough to cope with unforeseen problems; to admit to it if something goes wrong; to apologise for the part for which they are responsible; and, crucially, to avoid repeating the error. Saying sorry over and over again does not, in the long run, help very much. Over time, it may add to a sense that the company is insincere.        因此,航空公司必须尝试做到:有足够的弹性来应对不可预见的问题;在出现问题的情况下勇于承认;为他们要负责的那部分道歉;至关重要的是避免重复错误。长远而言,一遍又一遍的道歉不是很有帮助。随着时间推移,这可能会加剧公司不真诚的印象。
        I commute daily on a train service that, after every delay, runs a recorded announcement in which it “apologises for the inconvenience caused”. Believe me, after a while such messages wear very thin indeed.        我每天乘坐的通勤列车服务每次误点都会播放一个录音公告,称其“对由此造成的不便道歉”。相信我,在一段时间之后,这样的公告对乘客变得毫无意义。

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