You don’t have to look very hard to find examples of companies that have made mistakes – big mistakes (think: oil spills, faulty brakes, deceptive loans, etc., etc., etc.). These we all know about. To keep this blog apolitical, I’ll stay away from these examples.
While they may not grab headlines, face it, many companies we do business with make little mistakes every day that largely go under the public radar, sometimes without their own customers even knowing about them. Examples of these include improperly adding a few cents to everyone’s cable bill, a wood-flooring defect that wouldn’t have surfaced for several years, or a failure to credit airline miles properly.
Where did I come up with these examples? Each of them has happened to me in the last year. In each case, I was not aware of the problem at the time. But each company proactively ‘fessed up’ and rectified the situation to my satisfaction – one at a significant cost. Not coincidently, I am still a loyal customer of each of these companies. I greatly appreciate the fact that they value our business relationship enough to make things right – especially before I became aware of the issues myself.
It’s intriguing to observe how companies decide to deal (or not deal) with mistakes, both large and small. Some come forward proactively, take ownership, and work quickly to rectify them – understanding they have an obligation to do the right thing. You often see this with manufacturers of baby or children’s products that are found faulty or unsafe. Whether motivated by moral duty, or to avoid a tarnished brand and scathing reviews by parents on Amazon.com, these issues tend to get taken care of quickly. Other companies try to deny, pass the buck, put the PR machine in motion, or even blame the consumer somehow.
While we all wish these mistakes would not happen, they do. So while it may not have been as serious as an oil spill of historic proportions, has your company committed a blunder in the recent past? How did you handle it? How did your approach impact customer loyalty – positively or negatively? Will you do anything differently if next time?
P.S. You can fess up by stating, “I have a friend who’s company did (fill in the blank)” if you like!