I’ve just had this very apologetic email from Innocent Drinks:
Innocent’s tone of voice is much-envied and much-imitated by other brands, and yet it’s incredibly rare to see a brand apologise when something’s gone wrong. I’ve seen countless mistakes put down to ‘computer error’ (what a cop-out) or ‘supplier error’ (nice buck-passing) when the brand could just say sorry and put it right.
So if everyone wants Innocent’s tone of voice, why don’t more brands tell the truth and just say ‘we’re sorry’?
When I worked on the O2 account, one of my projects was a leaving card for people quitting the network. On the front, it says ‘Sorry to hear you’re leaving’. Sometime after that started being posted out to approximately 800 people a month, someone decided that saying sorry was a bad move, and that it would have to be scrapped (I don’t know if it was – I don’t work there anymore). How ridiculous. That particular ‘sorry’ wasn’t even a ‘we’re in the wrong’ kind of sorry, it was ‘sorry’ in the sense of ‘we’re sad’. What’s wrong with that?
One brand that’s notable for their prompt, detailed apologies is Transport for London, who run the London Underground. Whenever there’s been a disruption or delay, a printed apology is put up in the relevant stations within 24 hours. It explains what the problem was and says they’re sorry:
Picture from Annie Mole’s Flickr stream
OK, so ‘please accept my apologies’ isn’t exactly grovelling, but it’s a good deal better than not saying it at all. And 9 times out of 10, it seems the problem that caused the delay wasn’t even TfL’s fault. Clearly no-one thinks they’re weak for their apologies, so why don’t we see more brands putting their hands up? And people, for that matter. Come on, let’s all say we’re sorry.