David Christiansen, Founder of TroopTrack, sent us an email about apologizing well:
Over the weekend I broke the single sign on integration between my SaaS boy scout troop management software and ZenDesk, my help desk. It was broken for three days while I was sick, working on my regular job, and trying to enjoy some portion of Easter. I got about 30 emails from exception notifier, letting me know how my mistake was impacting users.
This morning I read your chapter on how to say you’re sorry. I already knew I needed to apologize, but it helped me to be human about it rather than corporate. Here’s what I sent:
Over the weekend I attempted to improve the single-sign-on feature between TroopTrack.com and TroopTrack Help Desk. Sadly, I didn’t do it right and caused two problems:
1) A brief outage over the weekend that impacted some of you.
2) Many of you are now unable to access the help desk.
The first problem was fixed within a few minutes, but it was still a pain for those of you who were online when it happened. I’m sorry about that.
I’m still working on the second problem. Hopefully it will be fixed soon. In the meantime, if you are having trouble accessing the help desk and need support, please email me directly or call me.
Thanks for understanding. Software is hard – I learn something new every day. Unfortunately sometimes I’m learning from my mistakes!
I appreciate the reminder REWORK gave me this morning to be myself.
Also, there was discussion in our Campfire room about how well done this was: Atlassian update on a security breach.
In summary — we’ve made mistakes, we’re sorry and we’re fixing them — and we’re going to be honest about what those mistakes are. Half of being a reliable and trustworthy vendor from a security perspective is the technical bits, and even though we erred here, we ultimately pride ourselves on how we handle security. The other half is being open and honest, which we’ll never fail at.
Related SvN posts on apologizing:
Hulu CEO: “We screwed up royally”
The bullshit of outage language
The goal is to apologize sincerely and be taken seriously
ThinkGeek: “We’d never get away with taking advantage of you guys, so why would we try?”
How to S.A.V.E. Customer Service