The art of corporate apology

My infatuation with Zappos reached new heights at the weekend. Nailed on to undermine morale, there is nothing worse than working in an environment where the grapevine consistently beats formal and informal communication channels, especially when things go wrong and there is no acknowledgement.

Too many companies operate in a climate of unnecessary secrecy, either in the belief that you can keep a lid on major foul ups (which you can’t) or because they have yet to learn the art of corporate apology. This applies equally to the internal and external audience by the way.

Internally, without acknowledgement there is no learning and the most powerful thing about making a mistake is the shared learning opportunity it presents. Honesty and openness when a clanger is dropped should contribute to that particular clanger not being dropped again. Ignore it – or God forbid try to cover it up and you will be punished. Maybe not immediately, but your time will come.

I’m very blessed to be working for a company that gets this, and whilst it may not quite be up there with Zappos, it’s not far off.

So, back to the incident/communication that prompted this outpouring of love and goodwill.

How does this rate for speed, transparency and humility in the face of a customer pricing mistake that cost the company a $1.6m loss in the space of 6 hours last Friday?

http://blogs.zappos.com/blogs/inside-zappos/2010/05/21/6pm-com-pricing-mistake

It’s beautiful is it not?

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