Everyone has their moments when they aren’t performing at their best. Whether it be an online business experiencing a web outage, an entire VoIP phone network going down or a sales person’s inappropriate client facing comments.
Damage control on any situation typically begins with a statement that goes something like:
Some of our subscribers may have experienced an outage of their phone systems today. We have since worked to restore service and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
Your Phone Provider
Be Considerate Of Your Customers Emotions
While some of you may think that the above letter is perfect, it leaves a substantial amount of room to be perceived as insulting by customers. It is important to remember that when apologizing, customers never “may or may not” have experienced the issue at hand, they did! Be direct and take ownership of the issue that was experienced. By doing so, you not only assume proper ownership and competent control over the situation but acknowledge the pains and needs of your customer with respect as a valued brand advocate for your business.
Choose The Most Appropriate Delivery Method
The best delivery method for your apology will always vary based on the scenario that your customer or prospect experienced. A sales professional shouting derogatory remarks at an executive board (and yes this has happened) will be handed much differently than an outage of a popular web service. While we never recommend simply publishing a tweet or a Facebook post, we certainly believe they should accompany a more personal apology.
Consider the circumstances under which the scenario happened including the scale of the incident, the people affected and their daily routine. For example, the busy executive board is limited to a select few people in a central office and thus provides excellent opportunity to send a personalized gift along with an apology note. Always hand write any items that are delivered directly to an person or small group.
However, in the case of the outage of the popular web service, those affected will be scattered throughout a large geographic region and the scale of those who experienced the outage would mean sending Edible Arrangements may be cost prohibitive. While sending a fruit basket may not be the best option, an email campaign is perfect and you should begin developing the copy of your campaign immediately upon noticing that something has gone wrong. Be sure to mail merge the campaign to make sure a personal touch and always send your campaign promptly.
Acknowledging the pains of your customers isn’t as hard or expensive as you might think. For example, in the email campaign we mentioned above, simply providing an email to allow customers to vent their frustrations to will not only give customers a chance to communicate feedback but also be comforted knowing that your company has acknowledged the pain they experienced.
Give your customers the satisfaction of knowing that your company understands that pain is an unacceptable element of the experience that your customers may have had and that you are taking action (even if only receiving feedback) to correct what may have gone wrong.
We do not recommend providing discounts on simple web outages or common inconveniences but do urge that with smaller groups the possibility that a favor of some kind may enhance the relationship between the brand and the customer. Although be careful as gifts always lose value the more they are given. The most precious gift is one that is rarely given.