UnhappenIt Bridges the Apology Gap between Business and Customers

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The concept of effectively apologizing to customers when businesses fail to live up to service expectations gets a boost from the academic community. UnhappenIt continues to lead the way in helping business meet this challenge – especially for small businesses who have limited resources.

So you blew it, nobody's perfect, UnhappenIt

” Apologies that aren’t considered sincere are “referred to as ‘cheap talk,’” ~ Dr Maurice Schweitzer

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Since UnhappenIt announced itself in June as a tool to help manage consumer relationships to improve operating results, this concept continues to gain momentum. This time from the highly regarded Wharton School Business in an article that appeared in the May 23, 2011 edition of Knowledge@Wharton Today and written by Dr Maurice Schweitzer, Professor of Operations Management. The following is an excerpt from the article.

Apologies are in the air. The Japanese government apologized for radioactive contamination at the Fukushima nuclear plant; Google apologized for potential privacy violations in its Buzz social networking service; the CEO at Renault apologized for falsely accusing three top managers of espionage; the archdiocese of Philadelphia apologized for the sexual abuse of children by the church’s clergymen and teachers; Newt Gingrich apologized to the Republican party for his remarks on Medicare reform; Arnold Schwarzenegger apologized for fathering, and hiding news of, an illegitimate son; actor Charlie Sheen apologized to his television co-star for calling him a “troll.” The list goes on.

Apologies, however, are not always so forthcoming.

In a recent editorial about the medical profession, Arthur L. Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that the state pass a law encouraging doctors, nurses, technicians, administrators and other care providers to apologize to their patients when they make mistakes during treatment.

As it is now, he says, lawyers and insurers typically advise health care professionals to “deny and defend” in order to avoid costly litigation and higher insurance premiums.

What about in the corporate world? Are apologies avoided like the plague, or are they seen as positive steps toward reconciliation? According to Dr. Schweitzer, apologies “tend to threaten a loss of power,” and he cites recent research suggesting that when people do not apologize, they in fact are “perceived to be more powerful.” Schweitzer’s view is that people are afraid to apologize for two reasons: “One is loss of status. The other is that apologizing makes you more vulnerable.”

And yet apologies are “incredibly powerful in terms of rebuilding a relationship,” Schweitzer says. They help people “move beyond an error. They restore a sense of rapport” among the parties involved.

In an earlier Knowledge Wharton article, Schweitzer described the two key elements for an apology: “that it should be perceived as sincere and that it should be substantial. In other words, it should be accompanied by penance.” Apologies that aren’t considered sincere are “referred to as ‘cheap talk,’” he said, adding that in the business world, the way in which apologies are made has a lot to do with how they are perceived. Customers know that full-page ads taken out by a company as a form of apology are expensive, and therefore they are seen as both sincere and substantial. “This is different than an apology from an airline clerk to a customer whose flight has just been cancelled.”

Both Caplan and Schweitzer encourage people to admit their mistakes and apologize for them. In many states, legislation already exists that “shields apologies from admission as evidence in malpractice suits.” The legislation, he adds, does not diminish patients’ rights in any way, but it does “a great deal to encourage the words that can help both patients and [their caretakers] deal with the cost of mistakes: ‘I’m sorry.’”

An UnhappenIt apology is robust and attractive with high perceived credibility because :

  •     The author can draft his own original language or use starter language to get to the point.
  •     Not just an email - eye-catching stationary on which to present the message is available.
  •     Unlike other solutions, MP3s, flowers or other gifts can be directly attached to your apology.

UnhappenIt is a product of Imaginext, LLC and is an Illinois based multimedia company started in 2010 by Reginald Walker. UnhappenIt.com is the only complete e-apology solution for both business and individuals. You can view UnhappenIt at http://www.unhappenit.com and our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/UnhappenIt. You can also contact Reginald Walker at reggie(at)imaginext-ideas(dot)com or 312.841.7197.

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Reginald Walker
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