In late 2012, Apple CEO, Tim Cook posted a public apology on the front page of apple.com. The apology was regarding the recent release of iOS 6 and the issues consumers were having with Apple Maps.
The apology consisted of Cook mentioning Apple’s pursuit of presenting the best products and acknowledging that Apple Maps were not consistent with that pursuit of perfection. He went on to give suggestions for map solutions and gave customers the guarantee that Apple would use the feedback given by customers to improve their map application (you can find a full script of Cook’s apology here).
If one were to look back at the situation today, yes, Apple still has its critics, but one would be hard pressed to find any criticism of Apple Maps.
Tim Cook’s apology is an example of a business using transparency to deal with negative feedback. Apple’s transparency is rooted in the company’s ability to accept and respond positively to feedback, whether good or bad.
Opening up to feedback can be risky for a company but based on the response to Cook’s apology, it can also pay off.
So, how can we learn from Apple in responding to negative criticism?
1 – Respond in a timely manner:
Cook’s response came very soon after the release of iOS 6. Our customers need to know that they are valued and the best way to do that is to listen.
2 – Make and honest and humble apology:
This is not the place to boast. The last thing people want to hear is deal with it. Be clear about the expectations that customers should have from you and if those are not meant, apologize and work to meet those expectations.
3 – Provide Solutions:
This can be dangerous because the best solution may not be your company, thus, taking the risk of losing a customer, but if you do the work and fix the issue the customer will respect the fact that you wanted the best for them. Cook suggested, Bing, MapQuest and Google as possible solutions and this fit well because those solutions were still things that could be done on an iPhone.
Looking at Apple’s response, how can your company benefit from being transparent about accepting feedback?