What we have here is a failure to communicate

Talk about a case of the shoemaker’s children having no shoes," how about the latest misstep from Sprint? According to the Associated Press, a Sprint operator refused to provide information to help locate a toddler who was in his father’s SUV when it was stolen.

The incident went down just before Christmas when Jason Cochran buckled his 10-month-old son Cochran_child_1 into his car seat and ran inside the house to collect his three-year-old. While he was inside, the car was stolen with Cochran’s infant and cell phone, equipped with a GPS system, inside.

Despite frantic calls from Mrs. Cochran to Sprint to provide the coordinates, the company operator refused to cooperate, saying it wouldn’t release the information without a subpoena and a $25 service fee. Happily, the SUV and the child were found within a few hours, safe and sound.

But, what about Sprint’s horrific behavior and the nonsensical bureaucratic policies and procedures of its operator? In my opinion, they should be severely chastised in the court of public opinion. Yet, as far as I know, there hasn’t been much fallout beyond the article.

Sprint’s boorish behavior is yet another example of performance trumping image and reputation. In other words, all the public relations and advertising in the world won’t make any difference if the organization’s product, service or, in this case, conduct, are shabby. Hopefully, the powers that be at Sprint have made some changes based upon this "near miss." Next time, they and their customer may not be so fortunate.

2 thoughts on “What we have here is a failure to communicate

  1. To me, this is an indication of the culture that Sprint management fosters within its organization. If it were more focused on customer service instead of, say, the next merger or customer acquisition, it would empower all of its front-line people to react with good judgment, even if means occasionally going outside standard practices.
    In the meantime, if there are legal concerns as Michelle rightly points out, isn’t it time for some form of legislation to be enacted that can remove any future obstacles that opeators might face?

  2. This is also a great example of the need for better crisis communication planning, especially Sprint (which used to be *gulp!* a client of mine). Every company should have thought out situations like this that involve criminal activity, terrorists, technical malfunction, natural disasters, etc.
    In this case, there was an emergency procedure but it requires a special form to be faxed – who has time to deal with that in an emergency? I’m sensing that members of the legal profession had their fingers in putting together that emergency plan.
    The company operator should have known exactly who he could and could not do in this specific emergency, and what would have been the consequences of violating Sprint’s policy. Only when employees are fully informed and trained can they be expected to make the jump from reacting like automatons to reacting like concerned human beings.