Management Apologies 101

By Jazzmine Davis

In Our Management Communication text, chapter 5 talks about the writing style of managers, and improvements that could be made to become more effective to their readers. I am particularly interested in the portion of the chapter that discussed when managers are required to apologize. After reading this, I began to search for an apology letter from a manager that fit all the qualifications described by O’Rourke. After looking for awhile, I found none that fit the bill. All of the letters had one or more things missing that would complete a perfect apology letter. I decided to post an example of a bad apology letter, to show everyone the mistakes that I found, and I am sure there are plenty more mistakes that I have overlooked. I have highlighted the things that do not go along with O’Rourke’s guidelines. Fairly, there are some good points in this apology letter also. The four things I looked for included taking the complaint seriously, explanation of what happened and why, not shifting the blame on others, and management doing something to fix the problem. This letter comes from a manager at CableNet Company, apologizing for not honoring a service change in a timely manner.

June 28, 2003

Dear Ms. Winston:

The purpose of this is to convey to you my sincere apologies for any inconvenience you may have experienced last month with respect to the installation
of your Internet high speed service.
I just returned from vacation this week and found your file in my in-basket. As soon as I reviewed your case it was clear that somehow your May 20th request for a change in service had somehow slipped through the cracks. The only possible explanation I can give is that we have recently had a number of key staff changes which might have resulted in your letter being overlooked.
Consequently, I have directed our Installation Group to contact you by the end of this week to set up a time convenient to you when they could go to your house and install your new router and make the necessary adjustments to your software.
Because of this serious oversight, and as a testament to our appreciation of you as our customer, we are going to provide you with your first three months of high speed service free of charge. Therefore, your account will not be billed until October of this year.
Ms. Quinlan, let me assure you that what happened in your case is not typical of CableNet’s level of customer service. We continue to be committed to providing you and all of our customers with the highest standards of service in the industry.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call me at 754-9785.

Yours in service,

Paul Cordero
Manager, Customer Solutions

The manager of CableNet did the right thing by taking the complaint seriously. The downfall that did make this letter unacceptable is that he did not respond in a timely fashion. The customer put in a request for service change on May 20th, and the letter is dated for June 28th. If a manager could not handle something for being out on vacation, someone else should have took the responsibility, and avoided the month delay before a apology was given to the customer. Also, the manager did a great job of explaining what happened, but he threw the blame on their staff changes and new employees. He could have easily just took accountability for the blame, offered his solution to the problem, and never mentioned the internal problems faced by CableNet.

I feel that posting an example of what not to do can improve the writing of others and provide a guide to help decrease the common mistakes made by managers that write their own letters and memos.

By mandybowling

One comment on “Management Apologies 101

  1. I agree with your analysis of the apology letter, and that the letter could have been a little stronger in regards to accountability and the manager throwing the staff changes “under the bus.” I can understand both sides of the complaint. The customer has had trouble with their high speed internet (which is impossible to live without), and the manager also has a legitimate reason for the mishap (we are all human and make mistakes and can’t always be perfect). But the letter should have addressed the issue and moved on from there. Even though we think we can make someone see a particular side of a story, persuading someone is difficult to do with an impersonal draft letter.

    The one thing I found interesting, or slightly strange, was that there are two different names on the letter. One name is used in the introduction and another completely different name is used in the last paragraph of the letter. Maybe this is an oversight on the managers behalf (which is not good since he can’t even get a name correct).

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