One day after limiting iPhone sales, AT&T rescinded its policy after realizing it had enough inventory. IT leaders take heed. AT&T's policy faux pas illustrates why IT departments should carefully vet new policies or risk losing customer confidence.
Last week, AT&T had to wipe a little egg off its face when they enacted and promptly canceled a policy that restricted iPhone sales. According to CNET's Crave blog:
Just one day after instituting a policy of one iPhone sale per customer, AT&T said Thursday that it has ended the policy both on its Web site and in its retail stores. Customers will now be able to buy three iPhones per person, a limit that the carrier enacted when the device first went on sale almost a year ago.
What was AT&T thinking? Several possibilities exist. Here are a few guesses:
- Frightened by an erroneous report on limited iPhone supplies, an AT&T employee overreacted and sent the policy without validating the numbers or getting corporate approval.
- An employee sent the policy memo by mistake—AT&T was considering the policy but had not made an official decision.
- Contrary to AT&T's assertion, iPhone supplies are limited, but they don't want anyone to know.
- The whole event was a publicity stunt.
- Verizon hired hackers to crack AT&T's e-mail system, send the memo, and make AT&T look like silly.
Regardless of the reason, AT&T's faux pas should serve as a warning to IT leaders everywhere.
Today's lesson: Carefully vet policies before rolling them out (particularly external-facing ones)
Just like any business unit, IT's organizational clout is largely based on how much confidence your customers have in you. Enacting and quickly canceling a permanent policy makes you look foolish and can cause your customers to loose faith in your abilities. If you can't avoid canceling a newly-introduced policy, you must have a good reason. AT&T didn't. Crave provides some insight into AT&T reasoning:
According to Information Week, the carrier lifted the new limit after realizing it has "sufficient inventory" to revert to its original policy.
I don't know what makes AT&T look worse—admitting the policy was a mistake or the fact they don't know how many iPhones they have.
Mistakes happen. Calvin Sun's article, "10 things you should do if you make a big mistake," can even help you handle your business blunders. But, you can avoid following in AT&T's footsteps by carefully vetting new policies before implementation. To you avoid rolling out a policy you quickly have to rescind, check out these TechRepublic resources and ready-made IT policies:
- IT Professional's Guide to Policies and Procedures, Third Edition
- 10 things you should know about winning support for an IT policy
- Explain security policies with this presentation
- TechRepublic Real World Guide: Policy Making and Enforcement
- TechRepublic's E-mail Security Policy
- TechRepublic Pro's New User IT Budget Policy
- TechRepublic's Password Policy
- TechRepublic's IT Hardware and Software Purchasing Policy
- TechRepublic's Remote Access Policy
- TechRepublic's Streaming Media Policy
- TechRepublic's VPN Policy
- TechRepublic's Portable Storage Policy
- TechRepublic's Peer To Peer Policy
- TechRepublic's Wireless Communications Policy
- TechRepublic's Temporary Dial-up Access Request Policy
- TechRepublic's Data Protection Policy
- TechRepublic's E-mail Usage Policy
- TechRepublic's Storage Security Policy
- TechRepublic's CD and DVD Policy
- Network Security Policy Quick Guide
- P2P file-sharing policy
- Build Your Own: Internet Usage Policy
- Build Your Own: E-mail Usage Policy
- Virus Protection Policy
- IT Security Policy Checklist