3 keys to apologizing to your customers

From a minor product flaw to a major data breach, some problem is bound to hurt your organization. Here’s what to do and not to do in writing your mea culpa.

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How to write an apology

Apologizing is more than just saying “sorry.”

To analyze a real-world example, let’s consider the response below from a company that has experienced a data breach:

Overnight we discovered a potential breach of some of our customer data stored on ***** (the company used to manage our email list) which may have led to some customer names and email addresses being accessed.

Our security team is aware of the issue and we are currently investigating to assess how many email addresses have in fact been accessed, but I’m writing to warn you now that it is possible that yours was among them.

The only personal data of yours we store is your name and email address, and, after rigorous investigation of our systems, no other personal data of any sort has been compromised.

As soon as we became aware of the potential breach we suspended access to *****, and began working to understand exactly which email addresses have been accessed, and how exactly these people managed to get into our ***** account.

The practical impact of this is likely to be that you receive a few more spam emails than you usually do. For almost everyone, especially those using modern email systems like Gmail, Yahoo and Office 365, those spam emails are likely to just end up in your spam folder and never see the light of day.

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