The power of apology and action

How soon should you apologize after making a mistake? Today, tomorrow, or just forget about it because the other party did not even notice your mistake? The fair response would be: as soon as you understand your mistake. It should be prompt, without dillydally, fairly quickly, so that the other party should feel that you really mean it. Any delay could mean that you are apologizing probably because of pressure from the aggrieved party, or you are not honest about your apology.

This applies fairly well in branding and communication. How many times have you seen that strong brands delaying their apology after something went wrong in them? Learn from Tylenol, Similac – just to name a few, on how to apologize and act.

Take the example of Tylenol deaths in 1980s in Chicago, when seven people died after taking Tylenol (a painkiller capsule) that was mysteriously tainted with cyanide! The company figured that, somebody tempered its bottles and sabotaged its reputation by placing those tainted bottles back to the shelf space. The company, which had been a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, recalled all Tylenol capsules from the market. The recall consisted of about 31 million (31×10,00,000) bottles of Tylenol, with a retail value of more than 100 million dollars! This was so because none knew which bottles were tempered and tainted and which ones were not. The company also alerted nationwide for not consuming Tylenol until it clears the investigation. Once cleared, along with re-branding campaign for Tylenol, the brand recovered from this crisis in less than a year, by gaining a big chunk of market share that was lost due to the disaster. Indeed, an amazing story of apology and action. Click to read another story like this. We hope others would apologize for their mistakes, even though this is not the case always (click here).

Bottom line: as soon as anything goes wrong in your brand, honestly apologize and take sufficient measures to correct it. Consumers will feel confident that you have a responsible and honest brand.


About 1mmarketing

Working as Associate Professor, School of Business, United International University, Bangladesh; a North-American graduate, with doctoral studies from UUM, Malaysia; cherishing a wide-view of the world, with multiple interests in culture, people, traveling, and specifically marketing science. I have a colorful and diversified background with a blend of corporate experience, research, consulting, training, public speaking and teaching. I love to write about marketing issues that affect our lives, and talk about its direction that would promote the greatest human welfare.
This entry was posted in Branding and Communication, Hard Core Branding, Marketing Practices and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The power of apology and action

  1. Maruf Reza Byron says:

    Thank you sir for your nice post. No one in this world is perfect so as to brands. I think we should consider the business relationship between various companies and their customers as the relationship between two persons who are trying to achieve mutual benefit. In our personal life we have to be honest, courteous, responsive, sensible to each other if we want to maintain a good friendly relationships with other people. We can apply the same philosophy and practices in case of business relationships. Only then we will be able to attain the customers’ confidence and trust; Otherwise not.

    BUT there is a problem… there is a underlying belief among customers that companies are doing everything only to maximize their profit. At the same time customers are very much skeptical about the ‘good’ words of business ethics even. They (customers) do not consider companies their ‘true’ friends who will be with them (customers) in crisis moment. Here is the challenge. With few exceptions, almost all companies are suffering from this ‘identity’ crisis. They are spending billions of dollar to get the ‘trust’ and ‘confidence’ of the customers. But who don’t know that one can’t buy ‘friendship’ by money?

    Moreover, if we consider the scenario of Bangladesh, we will found ourselves in an island of Robinson Crusoe. In the words of Michael Jackson, we can simply say that ‘They (companies) don’t care about us’…

    • Lasker Niaz Mahmud says:

      Thank you sir (Mr. Maruf Reza Byron), for your replying post. But what would be the bottom line….. We should be more “Diplomat” rather than “Transparent”, in this present world…?

  2. Anonymous says:

    this is a simple concept, unfortunately easily forgotten by companies. It seems like they need to learn it hard way.

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