Branding Speaker, Trainer, and Coach

Blameless Apologies Don’t Work

I can’t take it any longer! 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 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.

Your ideas? I want to hear!

  1. When I make a mistake, I send the customer a handmade card with a coupon inside for a free class. It give me an opportunity to speak with them in person.

  2. BestBuy is my biggest nightmare–but some of my best humor material. Lucky for me some of the best humor comes from pain–they are great material!!!

  3. Forbes Magazine has a lengthy article about how poorly BestBuy handled the Christmas situation, and how BestBuy does a terrible job of dealing with its in-store customers.

  4. Liz, you are so right on. It isn’t just Best Buy. The marketing bloopers that pour out of corporations these days is so telling. They used to just make thoughtless decisions and didn’t worry about consumer reactions. Today, they make thoughtless decisions and seem genuinely surprised consumers get upset about unfair play. I wrote a piece about the banks, the mobile phone companies, the airlines and their shenanigans, should you be interested. It really doesn’t take a lot of avoid stepping in it.

    • I suppose it is really up to us, the end consumer, to seek out musicians that still stick to these kinds of recording — like John Vanderslice and Jack White — not coidnicentally both fans of recording using analog technology over digital technology.

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