Much has been written lately here in Canada about tainted processed meat products sold by Maple Leaf Foods that were responsible for 18 deaths all across the country. One of the sidebar issues has been how well Michael McCain, that company’s president & CEO, has handled the crisis.
The standard formula when you have screwed up is supposed to be:
1. Admit you made a mistake.
2. Take responsibility for it.
3. Apologize for whatever inconvenience your error caused.
4. Explain what you will do to prevent it happening again.
Mr. McCain has done a good job on all these counts. But it’s astonishing how many companies don’t (or maybe can’t). Think how often you have called an organization out on some mistake it has made and the first reaction is, “it’s not my/our fault.” This is unfortunately especially prevalent in the hospitality industry where poor service is one of my pet peeves. If you mess up my food order, or give me the wrong kind of pillow, or put too much vermouth (i.e. more than one Higgs boson) in my Martini; and I complain, don’t ARGUE with me. Make it right.
I got onto this kick because I made a mistake yesterday. The first one since the late ’70s, I believe. Well, really I didn’t. A colleague has expected me to get approval from someone when I had understood I was simply to share the information with them. When the approval didn’t happen she fired me a nastygram. My response could easily have been, “No-one told me I was supposed to get approval!” Just like the bartender can say, “No human can possibly call a drink with that little vermouth in it a Martini!”
But arguing won’t make either party feel better, so the right marketing thing to do is follow the four steps above. My response was (and I cut-and-paste):
Sorry, that was my fault – I did remember to send them to Angela, but did not explicitly request approval. I will from now on.
And now everyone’s happy.