The Best Apology

Things sometimes go wrong in business, in spite of our best efforts. And as Seth Godin points out, there are all sorts of ways to apologize, some better than others.

Here’s one that really got it done. I walked into the Lloyd Center Men’s Wearhouse here in Portland on the last day of the winter sale. They didn’t have the shirts I wanted in my size, so Tammy, the store manager, ordered them for me at the sale price. They were to be delivered from another store, but when I came back in on the appointed day, they hadn’t yet arrived.

How did Tammy handle it? She asked for my phone number, and promised to deliver them to me if I couldn’t make it back. Tonight, after the mall closed, she came by my house and dropped them off. The right shirts, hand-delivered to my house by the manager. No extra charge.

Next time you need clothes in Portland, make time to visit Men’s Wearhouse in Portland. Ask for Tammy.

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This entry was posted in Branding, Customer Loyalty, Customer Service, Marketing, Portland, Sales. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Best Apology

  1. houkhouse says:

    What a refreshing story!

    I’m still dealing with a company that :
    *Didn’t send item I ordered for Christmas on 12/9 with other items
    *Promised rush shipping for holidays
    *On 12/23 hadn’t sent item
    *Informed me on 12/23 item out of stock, only after I called to inquire
    *Only solution offered was money back for ITEM NEVER RECEIVED (that’s not even a solution – that’s a requirement)
    *Said they could do nothing else for me to compensate
    *Took 1+ months and conversations with 1 supervisor and 5 different “customer service” reps to send me form letter and finally return money for missing item only.
    *Just received a letter telling me “complete satisfaction” is their goal.

    I’ve been screaming (not literally) dissatisfaction since 12/14. Although everyone stated they were sorry (love the link to the apology article, by the way) – no one backed it up.

    Any suggestions?

  2. Only thing I can think of is to tell the story in your blog — and name the company. Post a copy of their “complete satisfaction” letter and contrast it with what they actually did and didn’t do. Tag the post with the name of the store to make sure that if they’ve got someone watching for posts about them, it’ll show up.

    If they have a customer comment section in their web site, tell the story there, too.

    Then print a copy of your blog post and/or web comments, and snail-mail it to the CEO of the company.

    Will it get you any satisfaction? Maybe, maybe not. A smart CEO will want to buy you off to quiet you down, at least.

  3. Hi, Phil,

    Having just read my son’s blog (his name is Kent Blumberg), I did what he suggested, and clicked on your link. I was really pleased to read about Tammy’s response to your request, and believe she must be a super special lady. You can’t beat over-the-top service like that…whatever one’s business. Happy Valentines Day!

  4. rshevlin says:

    For me, this isn’t just a story about apologies, Phil. It’s about expectations and accountability.

    There was no way that you expected personal delivery — and either consciously or unconsciously Tammy knew that. By exceeding your expectations she earned a loyal customer — AND a public referral.

    The second aspect is the accountability angle. When consumers do business with multi-location, multi-channel firms, we don’t want to hear about “us and them” (us being this location or channel, and them being another store location or channel). It’s all one firm. And it sounds like Tammy didn’t use the “it’s somebody else’s fault” excuse that many employees take.

  5. Anne-Marie says:

    I agree with Phil – post the name of the company in question (houkhouse). Companies that do great things (Men’s Warehouse) deserved to get praised. Companies that don’t do okay by customers should be chastised and publically.

  6. Hi Phil,

    Great story! Deserves very high grades as far as apologies go. Here are 10 other examples of business apologies that didn’t come close to being that impressive…

    http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/031407-wider-net-apologies-letters.html?t51hb

  7. Pingback: Great Apologies Product Managers Can Learn From. (Plus, One Of My Own.) | Product Management Meets Pop Culture

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