When a Company Says ‘Sorry’

Alan Belniakbusiness, Marketing1 Comment


GE has been paying attention – I will give them that.  Read here for the full backstory.  In summary, though: GE and other companies spend a lot of time and money upfront trying to get you to be a customer, and less so after you’ve become a customer.  Arguably, this is when you need them the most.  And if they treat you the right way, this is when they can leverage you the most.

After my post on April 25, someone from GE reached out to me to address my concerns.  All along, everyone with whom I spoke or traded tweets or email messages with was polite and courteous and even apologetic.  I wasn’t looking for anyone to be subservient – rather, just to be human.  And they were human with me, so kudos to them.

They offered and did a few things….

  • They apologized for the inconvenience.  In the recent wake of Sony’s (fun game: search for the word ‘sorry’) and Apple’s completely un-customer-friendly and impersonal messages to its users, this was refreshing.  They (GE) actually said they were sorry to me.
  • They offered to compensate me for ‘damages’.  They offered a cash stipend toward lunch/dinner as a way to put something behind their statement.  Presumably, this was so their statement didn’t appear hollow.  As full disclosure, I accepted the stipend.  Instead of cashing the check, I will donate it to a worthy cause (I’m deciding between the American Cancer Society or something local in town that can use some help).
  • They shortened the window for the follow-up visit from 8:00a – 12:00n to 10:30a – 12:00n.  Between my schedule and my wife’s schedule, we wouldn’t be able to accommodate anything in the 8:00a to 10:30a window.  At 10:29a, there was a service truck parked one street over, and they arrived promptly at 10:30a.
  • As I noted in the ‘Bonus Material’ section of my previous post, I received a promotional email the next day after trading an email with them.  I was shocked.  It turns out that it wasn’t in response to me using email to trade some information with them earlier.  Rather, that’s the same email address I used on my warranty card (though I could’ve sworn I only wanted to receive product recall notices).  It was very odd timing that the first message I received was after this exchange.  So, I erroneously thought that GE was spamming me.  Instead, it was a mere coincidence.  They looked into it, and proactively called me and told me this. They asked if I’d like to have my name removed from that list.
  • They called me after the service technician left my house to ensure that [a] the problem was fixed; and [b] if it was satisfied.  I indicated yes on both accounts.  I also indicated that I’d write an update to my initial post (which is this post).  I said, “I may be critical, but I’m also fair.”  I don’t think it’s just or evenhanded to bash a company or process or issue, and then not follow up on it if it’s been rectified.

GE saw my complaint and responded to it.  Kudos to them for doing that.  And I will end this short paragraph here because I don’t want to take anything away from the work that GE’s social media team did.  For that, thank you.

More holistically though, I hope other companies take note here.  Had the ‘now that I’m a customer, make my interactions with you smooth’ workflow been better to begin with, GE would’ve never had to reach out like this.  In the end, it’s small potatoes in terms of the cost to GE.  But what about just being a better brand?  What about being there both before, during and after the sale?  What about not telling me “that’s the best we can do”, when clearly someone with a phone told me they can do better?  That’s the lesson here.

image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25792994@N04/5299579966/

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