When you make a mistake, sometimes a good email apology can help smooth things over. I’ve received several of these messages in the last several months. Miss-step happens Technology, like people, is fallible.  But if it’s something that’s offensive, that’s a big deal. Your company’s brand reputation can be damaged when an “oops” results in lost or angry customers, or at least some social media badmouthing.

Here are some ideas on how to respond when disaster, or near-disaster strikes.

  1. Get out In Front ASAP
    Within hours of a website glitch on October 12, New York & Company announced in a subject line: “And We’re Back!” The preview text explains: “Our site was down earlier, but we’re back up and running. We apologize for the inconvenience.” OK, so it’s not much but it was quick.
  1. Be Sincere
    Do not fake it, express your sorrow. Show some empathy for the plight of the customer or donor. Use a lot of text to do so, and avoid images so the customer can focus on those words.
  1. Explain What You Need To
    You do not owe a customer a full accounting of the reasons for a crash. But when properly positioned, it can help to not only deal with the damage it may have caused, but also to raise your statute in the customer’s eyes.
  1. Offer a Discount
    Whether it’s an offer code, a coupon, or even a gift, you need to keep the recipient’s trust. Otherwise, they might be reaching for that unsubscribe link at some point.

Ultimately, a mistake serious enough to require being addressed with an email is an opportunity to learn how to be better. And with this second chance, you can reinforce or rebuild the customer’s confidence in your company and its marketing. After all, it’s all about them, not you

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