I’m a big fan of people offering their apologies for when they have done something wrong.
In fact, I apologize that you have somehow come across this post and started reading it.
I’ve written about this before (Why Is It So Hard for Some People to Admit They Are Wrong), and in that post included a clip that I will always remember from Happy Days:
Not being willing to apologize or admit wrongdoing was perhaps the biggest problem I had with former President Trump.
So I was happy to see that Dan Ariely addresses this issue in an email he received from a reader this week:
I run an Etsy business. A few weeks ago I made some mistakes and sent several long-term customers the wrong items. What should I do to keep their business and earn back their trust? —Adrien
And here was Dan’s reply:
Running a small business is challenging, and mistakes will happen from time to time. Fortunately, a well-executed apology and stellar follow-up service can help. In a 2019 study on the “economics of apologies,” researchers looked at a large set of vendors and over a million of their customers and came away with four main insights about effective apologies.
- First, make sure to recognize the impact of your mistake on your customer: “I know it was disappointing not to have the right gift in time for the holiday.”
- Second, explain what you are doing to make sure it won’t happen again.
- Third, the apology must come at some cost to you. Customers who had a bad experience were more likely to continue their patronage when they were sent a coupon for future purchases.
- Finally, make sure to improve. An apology can actually be worse than no apology at all if the mistake is repeated.
By the way, the same principles are relevant when making a personal apology to friends or family.
So let me try and offer an effective apology to anyone who has read this far into my post:
- First, I know you have much better things to do with your time.
- Second, I am trying to make the titles of my blog extra boring, so as to scare off potential readers. Example: The Downside of a Company Having Too High a Current Ratio
- Third, here is a free coupon that allows you to skip over my blog when using the WordPress Reader:
- Fourth, I will share my stats that hopefully shows my readership going down over the next few weeks.
That’s what an effective apology looks like, so thank you Dan, for setting me straight.
I apologize for having associated your brilliant work on behavioral economics with my ridiculous blather.