How to successfully apologise to your customers

Most companies look to Apple for examples on how to innovate. These days, however, they should look to Apple for examples on how to apologize, according to contributor Tom Popomaronis, who calls Apple's response to the recent iPhone battery scandal -- in which it was discovered that the company intentionally slowed down old iPhones to compensate for battery degradation -- "the unofficial 'best apology of 2017.'"

"When your business has an issue impacting your trustworthiness with consumers, the sooner you address the issue, the better your chances of negating damage. That's exactly what Apple did on Dec. 28, 2017, when they addressed a problematic perception issue regarding battery life and product dependability on some of their older iPhones," reports Popomaronis, who applauds Apple's swift reaction to consumer outrage.

"We've been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize," Apple said in its Dec. 28 statement. "At Apple, our customers' trust means everything to us. We will never stop working to earn and maintain it. We are able to do the work we love only because of your faith and support -- and we will never forget that or take it for granted."

If your company gets called out by its customers, it should do what Apple did, according to Popomaronis, who says every good apology starts with a clear admission of guilt.

"Apologize for misunderstandings and poor company communications regarding the issues," he advises. "While your legal team might offer advice on the specifics of an apology, it is critical for your company to offer a mea culpa regarding your missteps."

Next, offer a solution that simultaneously fixes the problem and rebuilds trust.

"If a world-renowned company like Apple can see the error of their ways and apologize for a consumer misunderstanding, you too can fess up to problems when your company commits a faux pas," Popomaronis concludes. "Swallow your pride as a business owner, clarify how you plan to make things right, and double-down on rebuilding relationships with consumers. Anything less will do little to regain the trust of your loyal customers."

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