I can admit to you that finding a set of apologies to learn from was a more difficult task than I could have imagined. Perhaps it is because the best apologies remain between customers and the companies they love. Great apologies are delivered with humility. Creating fanfare around them is not in the spirit of a beloved company. And in fact, the apologies and decisions profiled in the chapter Decide to Say Sorry weren’t trumped up and announced to the world by those who made them. Their stories were told initially by the recipients of these apologies—customers who were grateful, moved, and amazed by the gesture.
The delivery of products and services—and in many cases, the creation of them—is a human activity. And because we are human, we have good days and bad days. Customers get that more than companies give them credit for. We’re all human. When things escalate, it’s often because the blunders seem to be purposefully swept under the rug, and a company doesn’t genuinely apologize and work to make things better.
What you’ll find in Decide to Say Sorry are decisions made by companies and by individuals inside companies who have found a way to say sorry well. The businesses range in size from relatively small to extremely large. Among them, all three categories of customer disappointment are represented:
- operational breakdowns
- service blunders
- widespread tragedies or missteps
In each of these cases, the company prospered because it could say sorry well.
When you say sorry well, you too will prosper, not only from how your actions bring customers back into your fold, but also in what your ability to apologize does for the energy inside your company.
Beloved companies don’t consider the job done until the emotional connection with customers is restored. Why do they decide to apologize in this manner? Because it’s the right thing to do. Our moms told us that when you hurt someone, intentionally or not, you apologize and you mean it. You right the wrong. You make peace.
To quote Nicholas Tavuchis, from his book Mea Culpa: A Sociology of Apology and Reconciliation, “An apology, no matter how sincere or effective, does not and cannot undo what has been done. And yet, in a mysterious way and according to its own logic, this is precisely what it manages to do.”
- Do you have the courage?
- Are you doing the apology well?