Quickly Accept Accountability When Things Go Wrong

Your apology is your humanity litmus test. It is unavoidable that at some point, your business will suffer a failure that disappoints customers. How your company reacts, explains, removes the pain, and takes accountability for actions signals how you think about customers, and the collective heart of your organization.

Grace and wisdom guide decisions of beloved companies toward accepting responsibility and resolving the situation when the chips are down—not accusations and skirting accountability. Repairing the emotional connection well is a hallmark of beloved companies. It makes us love them even more.

When a beloved company apologizes for something that goes wrong, the intent and motivation is to make customers whole—to earn the right to continue the relationship. However, repairing the emotional connection with customers in distress can be costly.

Do You have a Rescue Plan?

Does your rescue plan show a commitment to make customers whole or just to get past the incident? Often the easy-to-execute apology is extended, but the intent is to only “get past the incident. ” Beloved companies don’t consider the job done until the emotional connection with customers is restored. They turn “recovery” into an opportunity that says to customers, “Who else would respond this way? ”

Align Around Experience

Competency 2 (Align Around Experience) gives leaders a framework for guiding the work of the organization: requiring cross-silo accountability to deliver deliberate customer experiences. It unites the organization in building a framework for “earning the right” to customer asset growth. The role of the Chief Customer Officer is to unite leaders and the organization in building a one-company version of their customer journey, which includes knowing what to do when things go wrong, saying sorry and repairing the emotional connection with your customer.

Drive Accountability to Journey Stages

This means facilitating one-company building, development and understanding of the entire customer journey, versus the silo-based journeys that are frequently built that are really internal processes called “journeys” (such as the sales process, marketing acquisition process, etc.). It includes focusing the organization on priority one-company experiences. And on changing the conversations from silo driven conversations to collaborative conversations about customers’ lives – their experiences across the journey they have with your organization. Over time, this will evolve leadership language to drive performance along the customer journey, driving accountability to journey stages, not only down silos.

As a result of Competency 2 questions should change from silo and project performance to customer life improvement. This customer journey framework provides a disciplined ‘one company’ diagnosis into the ‘why’ behind customer asset growth or loss. And it establishes rigor for understanding and caring about priorities in customers’ lives. (The real reason for journey mapping, by the way!)


It’s the intent and motivation—the “what” and “why”—behind decisions that bond people with companies. When your intent (what you want to accomplish) and your motivation (the reason you make your decision) are driven by your awareness and empathy for your customers’ lives, the outcomes will set you apart. The humanity and empathy of your decisions will connect you emotionally with customers. And those customers will grow your business by telling the story of their experiences to everyone they know.

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