July 28, 2014
Apple, Airbnb and GM might represent three different industries… But their paths have crossed during the past year when they’ve all had to make apologies to the public for their product and service failures.
Because of their sincerity and admittance of responsibility, their customers remain.
Here’s how you can retain your clients in the wake of a mistake:
Offer an apology that is timely, straightforward and sincere. Writing and rewriting an apology numerous times can make your final statement sound less authentic or human. “An authentic apology is best seen as a commitment to change behavior over the long term, a commitment that can’t be made without a pause to carefully consider what just happened and what comes next,” writes LRN chief executive Dov Seidman for The New York Times.
Acknowledge those you have hurt and the damage caused via the same medium in which the complaint was originally made. If the damage was done on television, then your apology should also appear on television first. Don’t let your message get lost by distributing it through various and sundry channels.
Take responsibility for the situation and explain what you’re going to do to ensure the mistake doesn’t happen again. “Apologizers need to conduct a ‘moral audit’ by looking themselves in the mirror and asking, ‘How did I get here and how did I drift from the person I aspire to be?’” Seidman writes. Recognize that the public will see both your mistake and your apology. Make good on your word and do whatever you can to show that you didn’t make an empty promise or apology, and use your regret to fuel a real change in behavior.
Need more help? Check out Axia Public Relations’ e-book on managing public relations in a crisis.
Lauren Budik is an Axia Public Relations blogger. She most recently worked as an editorial assistant for a group of community newspapers owned by the Baltimore Sun. She and her husband currently live in Finland, where she is a community liaison officer at the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, photography and playing with her Sheltie, Lily. Originally from Atlanta, Lauren is a University of Missouri graduate, where she earned a Bachelor of Journalism with an emphasis in print and digital news.