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iPhone Apps: Blog Feed Post

An Apology That Doesn’t Say “I’m Sorry”…

Is there such a thing as a “bad” apology? I think so…

(By the way, this post is NOT meant as legal advice…this is a professional, business recommendation. That’s my field of expertise, not the law. However, my personal experience is that if you do what’s right for customers, you end up with a lot fewer legal problems, anyway.)

PepsiCo’s iPhone app for AMP Energy drink features 24 types of women, according to news reports, including “nerd”, “foreign exchange student” and “treehugger”, and offered possible pickup lines including “Wasn’t I in Space Academy with you?” and “You know the Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. I wonder what else she shaves?”

As you might imagine — and one wonders why Pepsi didn’t imagine this prior to the app’s release — the firestorm created by this “pickup primer” was swift and vicious.

Social media website Mashable posted an article, “Alienate Your Female Customers? Pepsi Has An App For That.”

So…Pepsi’s response? It was to say, “Our app tried to show the humorous lengths guys go to pick up women. We apologize to those who feel it’s in bad taste and appreciate your feedback.”

Notice what’s wrong with that statement? It’s not that they’re sorry for being so offensive. It’s that if YOU find it in bad taste, then…they’re sorry.

Could you imagine when you were in school coming home to your parents and saying, “Mom…Dad…if you find ‘F’s’ on my report card offensive, then I’m sorry I offended you.”

How about a husband saying, “Honey…if you find drinking too much, staying out all night, and sleeping with people you’re not married to offensive…you may possibly be upset by my actions of the previous evening…and, if that behavior happens to offend you…let me extend my apologies.”

Whatever happened to an unconditional, “We’re sorry”?

Pepsi is only sorry if YOU are offended. Which, basically, is a subliminal way of saying that if you aren’t offended, then their actions are A-OK.

In other words, they’re sorry…IF you are so overly sensitive that you don’t like their behavior. (Now…it’s YOU’RE fault that THEY have to be sorry!)

If you’re fine with the app, then they aren’t sorry at all…keep on playing the app on your iPhone…and drinking AMP. Rock on, Neanderthal dude.

We see it in politics and other fields, too. The Governor caught with the hooker (after prosecuting hookers and their johns as criminals) says he’s sorry…to people offended by his behavior. The Evangelist cries and wails to the congregation…but somehow both leave us with the feeling that what they are really sorry about is that they got CAUGHT.

Malpractice insurance companies are on record with proof that doctors who sincerely, unreservedly apologize when something goes wrong usually don’t get sued for malpractice. It’s when they hide behind lawyers, and fail to acknowledge the obvious, that patients feel the only way they can get the doctor’s attention and make a point is via the courts.

Want to really make an impression on customers and colleagues? When you screw up, tell them that you’re sorry. Sincerely. With no qualifications or wiggle-room. You are flat-out sorry.

That makes you a professional or organization of integrity. And, we customers are kind of funny…we like doing business with people and places that have that quality.

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Scott McKain is a business leader, bestselling author, and Hall of Fame professional speaker.
Scott's latest book, "The Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails" reached the #1 spot on Amazon.com list of Customer Service Bestsellers! He is the author of two #1 additional business bestsellers (Amazon.com & 800-CEO-READ): "What Customers REALLY Want" (currently available in trade paperback) and "ALL Business is Show Business."
He is the Co-founder and Principal of The Value Added Institute, a think-tank that examines the role of the customer experience in creating significant advances in the level of client loyalty, and has appeared on multiple occasions as a commentator and analyst on FOX News Channel. His platform presentations have run the gamut from the White House lawn with the President in the audience carried live on CNN and NBC's "Today" show...to a remote outpost near the Amazon...all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces...and from Singapore to Sweden...Mexico to Morocco.
An inductee into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame, he is also a member of "Speakers Roundtable" -- an elite, invitation-only group of twenty of the world's top business speakers.