Kryptonite Interview

As mentioned before, I’ve been emailing with Donna Tocci, Kryptonite’s Public Relations Manager. We’ve done an email interview, and thought you’d all like to read it. I may comment later, but for now, here’s the raw interview.

1. For those readers not familiar with the story, can you briefly recap what happened?

In mid-September, 2004, there became a concern with the security of tubular cylinders.  From the time Kryptonite learned of this concern we began researching the validity of the comments.  To clarify, Kryptonite did not learn of this concern until September, 2004.

Over the next few days all 25 people at Kryptonite worked tirelessly to create a solution for our loyal consumers. During that time, we had an open dialog with consumers and media that contacted us.  We outlined many different plans and researched them all to find the best solution for all of our customers (consumers, dealers and distributors).  We also needed to work with outside entities such as manufacturing plants and shipping companies before we could finalize any plan.

Kryptonite released a statement with a preliminary plan by the end of that first week. This was sent across BusinessWire, to each media outlet that we had been in contact with and posted it to our website.  Three business days later we announced our complete solution in the same way.

The solution that Kryptonite developed and is still implementing is this:
Anyone with a Kryptonite tubular cylinder lock, manufactured in any of the years we have been in business (30+), can exchange the lock for a comparable non-tubular cylinder Kryptonite lock for free.  Kryptonite even pays the shipping both ways.  There is no cost to the consumer.  For our dealers and distributors, Kryptonite replaces the tubular cylinder products in their inventory.

As a leader of the industry, Kryptonite devised a responsible plan for all of our customers.  We are the only company that has offered such an extensive program.  Kryptonite exchanged the first lock at the end of October and continues to do so on a weekly basis.  To date, we have received over 90,000 registrations and sent postage paid labels to over 60,000 consumers worldwide.  We have also replaced stock at both our distributor and dealer partners worldwide.

2. There were reports that the initial calls to your company regarding the lock issue were disregarded. Can you tell us a bit about that from your perspective?

We aren’t sure where this statement came from.  Kryptonite has been known for a company with ‘legendary customer service’ and this is something we take quite seriously.  We responded to each of our consumers’ questions and concerns on an individual basis when we interacted with them or were left messages with appropriate contact information.  Kryptonite also released statements to consumers and media on a daily basis that first week.

Again, from the time we were made aware of this concern it was the focus of all 25 people here at Kryptonite to gather as much information as possible and create a responsible solution for all of our customers.

3. Does your company have a better or different understanding of the power of the blogosphere after this incident?

As a company we certainly recognize blogging as a new communications medium that is gaining momentum.  A reported 26,000+ new blogs were created in the last 24-hours alone. We also recognize that most are people’s opinion, stated as fact for the reader.  We found it interesting that traditional media outlets interviewed bloggers to include in their articles and broadcasts regarding the tubular cylinder issue.  Some of these accounts even reported bloggers’ opinion as fact.

Going forward, we are certainly working to research both blogs and other relatively new technologies to create the most effective communications plan for the company going forward.  This has brought up more questions than it has answered at this point, though.  For example – How does any company work more openly with bloggers while being assured fact and opinion will be clearly separated for readers?  There is no editor, as in traditional media outlets, to fact-check or limit bias.

4. If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?

Nobody at Kryptonite had ever been through a situation like this before so, yes, looking back there are things we would have done differently. Hindsight is 20/20. For example, posting our initial daily statements to the Kryptonite.com website, rather than just to individuals who emailed us, may have been beneficial.  Although we do know that within minutes of our daily statements going out, they were posted on the forum.

5. Out of all bad things come some good. What would you say is the good in this situation for you?

I’m glad you asked!  I firmly believe in your statement. We learned ten fold the level of recognition of the Kryptonite brand name.  We also learned that we have an extremely loyal, passionate customer base.  Most of these customers have been very satisfied with the voluntary Lock Exchange Program.  Some have taken the time to write us letters, which we have posted on a wall in our Customer Service area.  They talk about extraordinary customer service in a time when many companies scoff at customer service and they talk about being a Kryptonite customer for life.

To get a little personal, this was the best team building experience a company could ever have.  This small group of driven people put our heads down and worked night and day to create the best plan for our customers. In the end, I think, we worked better together than we ever have and swiftly came up with a great plan for all Kryptonite customers worldwide.