Doing It Right.

I may be a bit unhappy that the SRAM Red Hydros on my Moots are currently under a DNR (do-not-ride) order–in fact yes, I am definitely unhappy about that–but I want to drop a word of thanks.

I have no issues calling out companies when I think they need criticism or redirection (and hey, Outside Online just called me a “well-known columnist” with “fairly clear sighted commentary”), but that’s not what today’s post is about.  Today’s post is to commend SRAM, just a little bit.  Again, I’m not happy about a high-profile product failure, but I am happy about their response.

The first thing they did was let their dealers know.

The second thing they did was set up a very easy-to-use website to provide information about the status of the recall.  I wish there was more information on the website, but it looks as if they’re telling what they know.

Third, the President of SRAM is personally owning the situation.  There’s a fair amount of criticism of SRAM buzzing on the webs, alleging a history of releasing products that are not ready for primetime.  My own past SRAM experience has been positive, running Rival on the Vaya for several years in grueling conditions, and running SRAM drivetrains on my fat and mountain bikes with great success, but not everyone has been that lucky.  So with a premium product that is failing very soon after its release, it would be easy for SRAM to have a public relations calamity here.  It would be easy for them to walk into a situation where they worsen their problems by either remaining silent or saying the wrong thing.

I’m writing today to say that SRAM is doing it right, in taking the bull by the horns, acknowledging the problem, apologizing personally and in a sincere fashion, and then committing to a global resolution to a challenging problem.  It’s encouraging to see an industry giant make a mistake and then do the right things to fix it.  Don’t get me wrong; I wish they hadn’t made the mistake in the first place.  But it has happened, they are working to fix it, and they’re being transparent about the process.  That’s a pretty awesome response to a pretty daunting problem.  I don’t necessarily know any more about how things will be resolved, or if I’ll be happy with the ultimate resolution, but I feel better knowing that at present, I know everything that there is to know about the situation. I feel better seeing daily updates on the recall website, even if they are just to say “we’re working on it.”  So in contrast to some other companies’ early silence in the face of problems, kudos to SRAM for owning their problems.  Mr. Day is right–these are high-profile bikes at high-profile dealers, and as the owner of one of the bikes, this is personal.  I appreciate his acknowledgment of the problem.

I don’t envy the position of big companies.  There is risk inherent in silence, and there is risk inherent in speaking and saying the wrong thing.  I believe that it’s better to say something–even if you don’t know what to say–to reassure customers that you’re working on the issue.  Whatever you say cannot be as bad as what the public fills the void with if you remain silent.  Keep talking, SRAM.  And thank you, Mr. Day, for speaking up personally.  That’s the model that the industry should emulate.

(I don’t mean to suggest that every time a company has a hiccup or a product recall that their president needs to go online and take a personal beating.  I don’t expect a call from the president every time I have a product warranty issue.  But on big, high-profile issues, it’s the right move.  Big, high-profile issues should be rare enough that a message from the President is an unusual move that shows a serious commitment to resolving the big problem).

In other news, yesterday marked the 2 year anniversary of the blog.  In that time, well over half of a million people have viewed these hallowed pages, and daily readership is increasing on a…well…daily basis.  When I look back at the early posts, I’m somewhat surprised by the combination of chutzpah and naiveté.  I’m only now starting to realize how much I don’t know.  To celebrate, I’m going to ride my Salsa Beargrease tonight.  As I hit the deep snow and shift down into the low gears on my SRAM XX1 drivetrain, I’ll be happy to be in the saddle, and happy to see a positive move in the bike industry.  So far, SRAM’s response is a model for other companies to learn from.  Hopefully, that positive trend continues.

I don’t say this often, but thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing a couple of minutes with me from time to time.

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5 thoughts on “Doing It Right.

  1. Stan gave no short-term resolution, no expectation for when a long-term resolution might occur, and even at one point alluded to it being a small problem.
    ‘Doing it right’ is not standing by and letting your customers know that their bike will serve as a very expensive paperweight until further notice. ‘Doing it right’ (making the customer whole again and building long-term loyalty) would be supplying mechanical loaners to customers if requested until such a time that the long-term fix is identified, or offering a refund so you can buy other parts instead.

    • Todd,
      The indication I’ve received is that they are going to offer mechanical loaners to customers until a full hydro solution is available. That does seem to make customers whole and work towards building long-term loyalty.

      • I guess I missed that during his infomercial…if that was their plan, they should have publicized it – even non-SRAM riders ought to know that, versus you finding out through a shop connection.

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