We've all experienced it first-hand or heard about it on the news: weaselly companies that screw up or screw customers then refuse to even apologize for fear of exposing themselves to litigation, let alone try to make things right.
So it's surprising when a company does quite the opposite. Today, I received this email from car2go (or you can view it below). I should say I've been a big fan of the car share company for about a year. It's made my life easier and saved me a ton of money. But, it's just a faceless company, like so many other faceless companies, and I can't say I intended to be particularly loyal to it if something better came along -- until I got that email.
car2go, you had me at 'Hello Toronto'.
Marketers at other big name companies could learn a thing or two from this email. Rogers, for instance, which gave me heart palpitations last year over a billing problem. Or Mastercard or American Express, which I've had run-ins with in the past. Or even my condo corporation that refused to pay for damage done to my home even when it acknowledges the damage was caused by something out of my control and entirely within the corporation's. But I digress.
Why is this car2go email so awesome?
First off, timeliness. CMO Paul DeLong (or whichever lovely copywriter wrote the letter for him) notified me about a snafu that happened this week -- one incidentally, I didn't even realize had happened -- in which some car2go rides were charged twice.
Second, admission of guilt. Paul doesn't make excuses for the glitch. He takes full responsibility.
Third, resolution. car2go isn't even giving me the chance to call to complain. It's already fixing the problem.
Fourth, restitution. car2go is giving me 30 minutes of drive time free as a peace offering.
So to recap: A company makes a big mistake with its customers. It notifies them even before many or most of them even knew there was a problem. It admits to the error and offers a swift resolution. And it makes amends.
Now, if you're a small business, this sort of behavior isn't foreign to you. If it is you probably still aren't in business. But I've never seen a big company do something like this and do it so well.
So, to the other big businesses out there, who prefer to view customers as adversaries to gouge instead of allies to build relationships with, read car2go's email carefully and take a lot of notes.
It will be on the test.