Blameless Apologies Don't Work

By: Liz Goodgold
Posted: 01/10/2012

Companies goof and then don't step up to the plate and accept responsibility.

Instead, they issue backwards, blameless apologies.

Besides the Netflix debacle, read this whopper from Best Buy: "Due to overwhelming demand of hot product offerings on BestBuy.com during the November and December time period, we have encountered a situation that has affected redemption of some of our customers' online orders." What does this statement mean in English? It means Best Buy didn't order enough hot sellers and will not be delivering your Christmas gifts in time. Period!

It is not a question of if you will slip up, it is a matter of when. Who remembers my email with the subject line of "My goof is your gain?" The note was intended for my Branding Club, but I inadvertently sent it to over 5,000 folks! Did I take responsibility? Yep! Did I make it right by letting everyone listen for free? Yes!

What Should You Do?

1. Have A Game Plan - Now! I remember working with a Chicago bagel company a few years ago and when we were printing biz cards, we also printed Bagel Bucks. They were discretionary dollars to hand out to customers when we messed up their order. They were a huge hit.

2. Take Responsibility - Yep, accept the blame.

3. Respond Quickly - Don't wait a week or a month; address the issue ASAP.

4. Listen To Customers - Everywhere! If your people are talking on-line, now is the time to answer. Turbo Tax took to Amazon and other on-line forms to pipe up that it had fixed an earlier glitch.

5. Make It Right - Fix the problem, redo the order, ship overnight, but get the customer happy.

6. Offer Another Chance To Do Biz With You - Many entrepreneurs simply give the customer the order for free, BUT what they are missing is that they need to give an incentive to come try you again. In my old world at Quaker Oats, we called them "bounce back" coupons. Let them bounce back into being a happy customer.

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