Here is a great example of an apology done right, from STRATFOR. A couple of days ago STRATFOR sent an email to subscribers, inviting them to take survey. Apparently there was a problem with the survey. Shortly thereafter, STRATFOR sent out the following:
Dear STRATFOR Reader:
My apologies. We’ve had technical and content problems with the survey we just released, and it’s apparent to us that it should never have gone out in its present form. If you’ve not yet tried to take the survey, please disregard my prior email invitation. If you’ve already attempted to take the survey, please forgive me for having wasted your time. This was poorly executed on our end, and I apologize again.
I’ll see all replies to this email, and you can also call my direct line at
xxx-xxx-xxxx with any questions.
Thank you for your understanding.
Very truly yours,
Aaric Eisenstein, SVP Publishing
This is about as close to the gold standard of a corporate apology as you can get. First, it was immediate–sent out as soon as STRATFOR confirmed that there was a problem. It comes directly from the responsible corporate officer, over his signature [literally, an image of his signature that I did not reproduce here] and in his own voice. Mr. Eisenstein apologizes, describes the problem, admits fault, asks readers’ forgiveness for wasting our time, again admits fault and apologizes. Then he invites readers to email him or call his direct line if you want to vent about it. [I redacted the number. You don’t need to call him.]. It’s almost like he read John Kador’s book.
But I don’t think STRATFOR needed apology advice. Their business is providing global intelligence, analyzing geopolitical events, evaluating political risk factors, etc. STRATFOR’s stock in trade is telling it like it is to the best of their ability. This technical glitch is a minor thing that may have irritated and frustrated some readers — but they turned it into an opportunity to reinforce their reputation, brand image, good name, or whatever you want to call it. This is exactly how you’d expect STRATFOR to respond — own up, apologize, fix it, move on. An A+ apology in anyone’s book!