When the sh#t hits the fan

Its so good to see the response from JD Group to the accusations from Carte Blanche that their lending practices are dubious.

Pity there is nothing on the JD Group website that deals with the issue. The most recent news is an article from 2005. Surely this is some of the biggest news to affect the JD Groups customers and shareholders in a long time.

There are always going to be stuff-ups in business – whether it is dealing with customers, suppliers or partners. The difference comes in how the matter is dealt with and often this just comes down to communication. And this is where the real difference is – is that communication genuine and engaging, or is it just more corporate spin-doctoring.

Take eNatis for example – for weeks we heard that it was running at 95%. But speak to the people standing outside Langlaagte Testing Station that wanted to burn the place down. They would say it was the other way around. Government spokespeople – please don’t feed us drivel, as we can see straight through it.

An experience that I had recently when everything that could go wrong did. It was a Sunday night at OR Tambo International Airport. We were meant to fly on the 5:10pm Kulula flight to Cape Town. After a 3 hour delay (the plane was being fixed in the hangar as there was something wrong with the landing gear), we were given vouchers and took off. 2 -3minutes into the flight we hear what sounds like Superman ripping the wings off. You know that metal against metal sound. Not pleasant at 1500 meters, especially when the plane was bouncing like a bucking bronco.

Captain Kirk from Flight Command – ‘Sorry folk. We have a problem with the landing gear and have to return to ORT. We will be met by emergency vehicles, which is required by procedure.’ Fark. To cut (what seemed) a very long flight and terrifying story short – we landed (followed by flashing red lights from big yellow firetrucks), and were back in the terminal building at about 9:15pm.

Kulula kept us smiling, fed with biltong, sweets, etc, offered us drinks and kept us informed. They even offered people overnight accommodation if leaving at 11:30pm was too late for the weary travelers. The supervisor also took the smokers on a trek through the airport to find a suitable smoking area. On re-boarding, we were given additional discount vouchers – a nice touch.

So even after an annoying, frightening experience – I will still fly with Kulula. The staff were cheerful, they communicated and they attempted to make right. It is all about how you deal with stuff-ups that makes stronger bonds with customers.

Would SAA do the same? Not sure if their ground staff would be able to rustle up a hundred chocolates, drinks, biltong packs, and chips at 9:30pm on a Sunday night, and be able to dish out discount and accommodation vouchers. Don’t really like flying with them any more, so probably will never know.

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