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Apologies with No Ifs, Ands, or Buts Ring Truest

Tim Cook’s apology for the failure of its Maps software was nearly perfect.  It is hard for any leader to acknowledge a mistake, especially for a company such as Apple that has set the highest expectations among its camp of followers.  We all slip up, and apologies don’t always come easy.

I think Tim Cook’s letter, baring one problem, got it right:

Personalized salutation:  “To our customers” was personal and warm.

Started with a strength:  “… we strive to make world-class products …”

Expressed clear and immediate apology: “We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused …”

Remedy at work:  Made it clear that correcting the problem is a priority

Recognized the involvement of customers:  “… appreciate feedback …”

Offered solution, even if temporary:  “download maps apps from Apple store” and even recommended its fierce rival Google as well as Nokia.

Unfortunately, but perhaps understandably, defensiveness, subtle but repeatedly there, detracted from the apology.  I love my iPhone, but to a non-expert reading the apology, I wanted to know if the product actually should have been launched.  Had I been one of the many customers sent on a wild goose chase, I’d really want an answer to that.

Would it have been better if Tim Cook said nothing?  I don’t think so.  It showed strength and reinforced the brand.

What do you think?

About the Author

Linda Richardson is the Founder and Executive Chairwoman of Richardson, a global sales training business. As a recognized leader in the industry, she has won the coveted Stevie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sales Excellence for 2006 and in 2007 she was identified by Training Industry, Inc. as one of the “Top 20 Most Influential Training Professionals.” Linda was also recognized with the Top Sales and Marketing Award for Thought Leader in 2012 by the Top Sales World.

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