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All Marketers Are Liars Blog




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« The Reason | Main | Important publishing news »

Taking responsibility

One of the best ways to enrage a customer is to duck responsibility.

Airlines do it, accountants do it, lawyers do it. Doctors, too. Frontline service workers are always in the awkward position of having to deal with angry customers about something that's not their fault.

Often, the very act of evasion is what the customer is angry about. All we want is someone to look us in the eye and take responsibility.

Here's a note someone sent, enraged about a Valentine's Day order gone wrong:

Here is an email that I received when I came home on Tuesday Feb 14th.  It
is from a company named Shari's Berries.  I saw their product on Good
Morning America last week and decided to order some chocolate covered
strawberries for a gift.  Their web-site guaranteed Valentine's Day
delivery.  I must tell you the price was not cheap.  I ordered a gift
selection and with delivery it was over $65.00.

--------------------------------------------------------

Dear XXXXXXXXXXXXX,

We are writing to inform you that your order for delivery February 14th was
not shipped yesterday as requested. 

We are prepared to ship your order on February 14th for arrival on the 15th
..  Alternatively, you do have the option of canceling your order, but we'd
rather you did not.

We regret that your order did not ship as requested and in consideration of
this delay, if you wish us to still ship the order, we will provide a
discount of 40% off the normal product price.

Please choose which course of action you wish that we take by replying to
this email or by sending an email to  <mailto:service@berries.com>
service@berries.com .

Sincerely,

Shari's Berries Customer Service Team

----------------------------------------------

Obviously, he's upset. The whole point of the stupidity of Valentine's Day is that you have to have the goods, on time, or it doesn't count.

But what's enraging about this note is that it's not from a real person. That they don't explain why or how they screwed up. That they didn't learn anything. And that they don't accept responsibility.

What if Shari herself had written? What if she had explained what had happened, how it wouldn't happen again, and what she had learned?

The problem with accepting responsibility, though, is that you can be too glib about it. A lot of responsibility taking in today's newspaper for example,

"It was not Harry's fault," Cheney said Wednesday on Fox News. "You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend."

"I am responsible for the Department of Homeland Security," said Michael Chertoff before Congress, explaining away the loss of life and property. "I'm accountable and accept responsibility for the performance of the entire department."

David J. Edmondson, CEO of Radio Shack, after being caught faking his academic background, "I clearly misstated my academic record and the responsibility for these misstatements is mine alone."

Is "I accept responsibility" the new "Your call is very important to us"? Probably.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Taking responsibility:

» First sincerity sucked. Now responsibility does, too. from Blair Warrens Crooked Wisdom
Seth Godin just posted something that brings to mind one of my most notorious posts, Sincerity Sucks. Read Seths post here. Notice that toward the end he lists a few recent news items then wonders if the phrase I accept responsibility&qu... [Read More]

» Taking Responsibility from The Hand of FuManChu
Is "I accept responsibility" the new "Your call is very important to us"? Probably. Is that because some people have to be **told** by a marketing guru that taking responsibility is worth the effort? Probably. Shame, that. [Read More]

» Obligatory Consumers from UltraSketch
Author Seth Godin blogs about his anger at not being shipped $65 chocolate covered strawberries on Valentine's Day. His analogy: If Cheney can take responsibility for shooting someone, the strawberry company should be able to take responsibility for mi... [Read More]

» The Politics of Hacking from Spamroll
Techdirt notes that some politic parties will stop at nothing to gain intel on what the opposition is doing. In the US, we have known this for more than three decades - it is something Watergate clued us into. Now... [Read More]

» The buck stops where? from Betsy Devine: Funny Ha-Ha or Funny Peculiar?
Seth Godin asks: Is "I accept responsibility" the new "Your call is very important to us"? It's a phrase getting lots of play in DC right now, as Dick Cheney and Michael Chertoff theatrically "accept responsibility" for misdeeds that were, in fact, clearl [Read More]

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Enter Artist or Song or Album name to search:. Download MP3 Music for $0.10 per song. MP3 Archive:. # - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M ... [Read More]

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