BP CEO Tony Hayward BP CEO is no longer speaking for BP’s Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico according to a New York Time article. The BP Board of Directors has removed him because he ‘upset people’. The Chairman of BP’s Board of Directors, Carl-Henric Svanberg is taking over.

“This has now turned into a reputational matter, a financial squeeze for BP and a political matter, and that is why you will now see more of me,” said Svanberg.

While the article states that Tony Hayward will still be in charge of running BP’s extensive business, there is rife speculation that a management change may be coming and  a possible successor’s name is mentioned in the article.

From a customer satisfaction perspective, what went wrong?

1. Poor Public Relations Communication Skills:

Tony Hayward didn’t perform well at the US Congressional Hearing. During the hearing, Tony Hayward repeatedly blamed others and said denied responsibility for the decisions that may have led to the accident. He was perceived as ‘evasive and obstructive’. He may have been following his legal team’s advice. “He appeared to have drunk deeply of the wisdom of his lawyers,” The Times of London dryly noted. But CEOs are expected to be able to take that advice and still spin it with the public in a way that is understandable and believable.

2. The buck has to stop somewhere.

Tony Hayward kept blaming Transocean, the owner of the rig. According to another New York Times article – Transocean LTD., a Swiss-based company, is the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor, renting floating mobile drill rigs along with equipment and personnel for operations, to oil and gas companies.  None of us knows what the terms and conditions of the contract between BP and Transocean are but if a company subscontracts to another, they must do due diligence on their procedures and risk mitigation before hiring them. Blaming Transocean does not remove responsibility from BP. There is an old saying by those in ultimate charge of a problem: “The Buck Stops Here”. Tony Hayward did not believe that was his duty.

3. Lack of Honesty and Integrity.

Tony Hayward repeatedly downplayed the size of the oil spill and the environmental implications, angering the US government and the population of the US, particularly those living in the affected areas on the Gulf Coast. BP later admitted the oil spill was under estimated, also implying what everyone already knew, the consequences would be more severe.

4. Self Interest vs Public Interest

The worst comment of all was one Tony Hayward made on May 31, 2010 when he hoped that disaster would end soon because, he said, “I’d like my life back.” I think the residents of the gulf coast would like their lives back. And what about the families of the 11 men who died. Can they get their lives back? While he apologized, this lack of caring and empathy for anyone other than himself was damning.

An article in the Mirror.co.uk.NEWs, talks about Tony Hayward participating in a, Isle of Wight Yacht race on June 20, 2010, just days after his poor showing at the US Congressional hearing that got him ousted as the Oil Spill Spokesman.  The article speculates that this will be perceived as another public relations disaster for him. A blog post on CNN Larry King’s blog contrasts Tony Hayward in a yacht race with out of work fisherman on the Gulf Coast. This is another example of the perception of self interest rather than public responsibility.

I expect there may be changes in the BP Management ranks soon.

Summary

Customer Satisfaction is more than just surveys and customer service. Customer satisfaction includes multiple stakeholders, including governments, individuals and even populations of countries, even many countries. There are other stakeholders as well including shareholders, employees, financial backers, suppliers, and subcontractors and business partners. All of these stakeholders are affected. The deep sea offshore drilling for oil industry is affected. This disaster will have far reaching consequences.

Senior management is key in mitigating the dissatisfaction of stakeholders.

See my earlier post ‘Recovering from Big Mistakes in Customer Satisfaction’, about Tiger Woods, Toyota’s CEO and  the Pope addressing their mistakes.

Sadly  in Tony Hayward’s case, we have a demonstration of what ‘not to do’.

I welcome your comments. Enter them below.

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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

5 Responses to “BP CEO Tony Hayward ousted as Gulf Oil Spill Spokesman”

  1. Shona Mesker Says:

    BP should have consider the long term effects of this tragedy.

  2. Domonique Burlew Says:

    This whole catastrophe with BP is idiocy. The amount of petroleum pouring forth into the Gulf of Mexico skyrocketed by thousands of barrelfuls Wednesday after an subaquatic robot seemingly struck the containment cap that has been getting crude from BP’s Macondo well. I wonder how much destruction this entire catastrophe is going to cost the ocean when it’s all said and done

  3. Adele Says:

    I am sure BP is learning many lessons from this very serious problem, as are many others who are affected or part of the industry.

    Sadly, it is the people living with the effects of this problem that are affected most and who have so little ability to fix the problem.

  4. Bob Dudley replaces Tony Hayward as BP CEO after Oil Leak capped | Customer Satisfaction and Reputation Management Says:

    [...] to my Blog by email for updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginIn an earlier blog post, I highlighted that  Tony Hayward, BP CEO had been removed from being the spokesman for the BP Oil [...]

  5. Adele Says:

    I suggest you try it with Windows Explorer. Let me know.

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