Do you know what I find pretty shocking these days? When a company doesn’t admit they were wrong, or they made a mistake, or their service failed to live up to expectations.

Now there’s a small chance a company didn’t know that its website was down for a good while, for example, but it’s a very small chance these days. When was the last time you saw a company admit they messed up, unless they were forced to because a PR issue they could have stemmed early has spiralled into a nightmare?

I recently got an email from a company whose stuff I subscribe to, because it’s very good content. The email came thru with the subject line exactly like this: [insert subversive subject line]. I kid you not. It’s wrong on so many levels, even when you try and explain it away as deliberate, but I never saw a subsequent apology.

Companies seem to want to sweep it under the corporate carpet, forget it ever happened, or else hope that no-one noticed. They hardly ever say ‘mea culpa’ unless they have to. Wouldn’t it be the most refreshing thing in the world if you went onto a website and there was a prominent statement to the effect of:

“Do you know something, our website was down for 2 hours last Thursday, and that might have been when you were browsing it. If that’s the case, we humbly apologise for your experience not being up the standards we set ourselves. We’ll try our best not to let it happen again.”

Do you think it will send their customers’ lawyers scurrying off to see if they can eek out a few bucks for a broken SLA? Do you think it’ll send their stock price plummeting and plunge the world’s markets into disarray? Probably not. A little bit of honesty, humility and integrity will in all likelihood have the opposite effect.

This is what it boils down to. It shouldn’t be a case of ‘Phew, got away with that one, let’s chalk it up to good fortune’ but rather ‘We should do better, we should come clean and we should redouble our efforts to live up to our brand promise.’

It’s OK to say ‘I’m sorry, my fault.’  In fact I encourage it, especially if you manage people.

The trouble is, it’s almost always expediency over effort.

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