I recently had a client that was called out on Facebook for an error one of their team members had made. They were stuck as to how to respond. They wanted to make the situation right, and their initial thought was to respond in a private message.
They were worried that if they responded publicly
it may turn into a "bash-fest".
And that is the heart of this blog post. It's not the first time I've heard this concern. It's why many businesses aren't on social media in general, and the rest are hesitant to make it part of their consistent communication to customers.
Here is what I told them my client on the phone,
and what I want you to know today…
"They called you out publicly, and you need to apologize to them the same way. People have always been able to criticize you. The only difference now is you get to be made aware of it. Many years ago, no one had a platform to post a picture of your mistake. AND…the fact that they can now? THAT IS A GOOD THING!"
Wait, what? How is that a good thing?
Don't get me wrong…making the mistake stinks. It should never have happened. But if you find yourself in this spot, it's time to handle it the right way.
When they posted the picture of your mistake, they invited you to make the situation right. What you see as public embarrassment should be viewed as a tremendous opportunity to re-build trust, be transparent and correct the mistake.
And before I go, I want to share what a good apology looks like vs. a lousy one.
Step away from the transaction that wasn't handled correctly, and focus on what needs to be done to honor the relationship that brought them to you in the first place.
1. Say I'm Sorry. Accept FULL responsibility with NO strings attached.
2. Tell them you will refund ALL of the money they spent on this experience.
3. Ask them how else you can make it up to them, and provide them with the means to contact ownership directly so that you can make that happen for them.
WHAT NOT TO DO…
Talk about how "you hope to keep them as a customer".
IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. Your team made the mistake. If they want to stay a customer after this is over, they will. A genuine apology doesn't come with a request from you to keep their business.
Say you are sorry, make it right financially, and ask how you can honor them for their inconvenience and leave it at that.
Apologize correctly, and you'll find your self having to apologize less…because you'll realize that this entire moment has absolutely nothing to do with a transaction, and everything to do with the experience. You are where you are because of trusted relationships. When you honor them, the experience tends to be remarkable.
And should your team find itself in a spot like my client did?
Apologize correctly by honoring your customer directly.
From the desk of our founder, Brett W. Gould.