Most corporate apologies sound the same. They’re driven more by risk management than by empathy.
That’s why genuine corporate apologies are so surprising, and powerful. Apple CEO Tim Cook’s apology for the Maps App last week was unusually good. Apple even went so far as to recommend alternatives from rivals Microsoft and Google.
Honesty and accountability are disarming. Brands are judged most by what happens when things go wrong.
Recently I received an apology from United Airlines that illustrates the typical corporate mindset. Their apology letter admitted nothing wrong, but offered a $150 travel voucher for my “inconveniences”. When I tried to use the travel voucher, it had an invalid code. After numerous phone calls, emails, and four weeks of waiting, I eventually received a new code, but it was for a $100 “replacement” voucher, $50 less than the apology voucher it replaced. Their apology was more frustrating than the original incident.
Contrast United with this voucher apology from innocent drinks. After sending a voucher with the wrong bar code, they send an uncommonly human apology, including this footnote, “you can keep it as a memento to our stupidity”.
Had United followed shown some of that humility, they could have kept their travel voucher. How we deliver an apology can be more important than any discount.
Just because a brand is part of a large company doesn’t mean it has to sound corporate. J&J made a wonderful apology recently with the “O.B. Triple Sorry”. After discontinuing a popular product, O.B. brought it back. They then apologized with a personalized song that incorporated consumers’ actual names into the song (skywriters, tattoos, etc). A sample video is pasted below.
Trend firm trendwatching.com coined the term “flawsome” to describe brands that are loved despite, or even because of, their flaws. Sounding “flawsome” trumps sounding perfectly corporate.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away one signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. I’ll pick one comment. Thanks!)