The Super Bowl Snub: A Lesson in Customer Service

As a Bears fan, the Super Bowl had very little meaning this year – but like the other 162 million people in the US, I sat in front of my TV and watched two of my most hated teams duke it out in what was, overall, an underwhelming finale to the season, capped off by an autotuned mess ala the Black Eyed Peas and commercials that just really didn’t do it for me (though, maybe I’m just bitter as a Chicago sports fan).

While I was sitting in the comfort of my own apartment, sipping a beer and eating homemade Chili, 400 football fans who thought they’d be watching the game live and in-person Sunday evening were given the shaft, being told the temporary bleachers constructed to allow additional seating were unsafe as they were denied entry.

Not cool, NFL. Not cool at all – poor planning put icing on the cake of what was already a mess of a week with the weather down in Dallas.

That being said, the NFL went to great lengths to make things right:

The 400 people without seats will be “guests of the NFL” at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, commissioner Roger Goodell said on Monday. The fans also received triple the face value of their 2011 tickets, which is $2,400, free merchandise, food and beverages, and were allowed to go on the field at Cowboys Stadium after the game. (via

What’s the takeaway? Every business and every brand is going to face moments like these – a time when a mistake is made and the client is left in the dark. While this may be a blip on the radar for the NFL, it’s moments like these that can define a business or brand.

  • How do you handle great adversity?
  • What happens when mistakes are made?
  • What are you willing to do to make things right?
  • How far will you go to satisfy your customers?
  • How can you turn a negative situation into a positive outcome?

These are questions every business should ask themselves. Have a plan of action for when things go wrong. Prepare for the best, but always plan for the worst.

Did the NFL make things right? In my opinion, they did about all they could do, and are more than compensating, at least┬ámonetarily, for their mistake. Then again, I’m not a Packers or Steelers fan who paid top dollar to see my favorite team in the Super Bowl. To those who did, and had to watch the game and Slash’s bedazzled hat outside Cowboys Stadium like the rest of us, have fun in Indianapolis next year, that is, if you get in.

What do you think? Did the NFL handle the situation well? Could they, or should they have done anything else?

(Photo c/o