Many of you have sent me warm wishes and requests for an update after my debacle with the Canadian hardware store, Rona. First, let me begin by saying that all of your well-wishes and concerns were touching and deeply appreciated, thank you!
Along with the follow-up I’ve promised you, I have a few additional points and issues that I’d like to address. They aren’t any earth-shattering take-aways, but as the devil is in the detail, they are important behaviours that I wish to strongly advise against.
Update on Rona’s Huge Customer Care Fail
Once my blog post about the unpleasant situation I experienced at a Rona store was published, I finally received a reply from the company. This reply first came on Twitter and was the best response I had yet received, take a look:
Read from bottom to top
The call did in fact come that afternoon. Someone from the head office called to apologize for both the situation and the way I was treated, and to ask if the store owner could call me to get more details on the events that happened. I was told that I would receive the store owner’s call that afternoon.
The call finally came the next afternoon, but from another store manager rather than the store owner. During this call, I heard many more excuses on how the item must have been placed there by a supplier or customer, because it would not have been placed so insecurely by a Rona worker.
Lesson 1: In truth, it does not matter how the accident happened, but only that it did. Instead of continuously repeating that it was not the store’s fault, simply own up, apologize and move on. I appreciated the call, but I would have appreciated less of my time being wasted on excuses.
So up until here, I was happy to have heard from the head office and the store itself and although I was tired of excuses, I felt that they apologized and I was happy to hear their promise to reevaluate their internal procedures for dealing with such high-risk situations. From there, I thought the situation was over. If only they had quit while they were ahead…
Adding insult to injury
Yesterday, I received an email from Rona’s Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs. The email began by apologizing again – good start – but continued to explain (ahem, more excuses) how they encourage their team to be sincere, but not to apologize publicly due to the potential risk of a liability lawsuit. The woman on the other end of the email, a Mrs. Laberge, continued by agreeing that “In the case you describe, our community manager lacked empathy, I’ll give you that” (truthfully, she could have left out the snarky “I’ll give you that” remark). She then continued with more excuses of how the case should have been dealt with in-store but how there wasn’t enough time. She concluded her email with a link to a document that supports her mission to not subject the company to liability lawsuits (which is a very interesting document, if you’re interested in reading it).
Lesson 2: Quit while you’re ahead and, seriously, enough with the excuses!
Within my reply, I told Mrs. Laberge that I understood her concerns, though there are two courts that she needs to be aware of and prepared for: the court of law AND the court of public opinion. I warned her that hiding behind such excuses are not enough and I pointed out that the mistakes that were made would have been very bad for the brand’s reputation had they experienced a more serious issue, or worse an actual crisis.
After another small exchange, I was finally left with an email that insinuated that I had fabricated the entire incident to test the brand and gain a client, (great! injured AND insulted. Way to go Rona!) and her closing words were as follows:
“As I said to my CEO yesterday during our AGM, it does not matter how well we plan the outcome, how well we do or how good we speak, journalists will decide what fit their agenda and judge us accordingly.”
Within this last email is where the real lessons lay.
Lesson 3: Do not add insult to injury and come out with accusations. I understand that people do test brands, but under no circumstances is it wise to let out such accusations without a hint of proof. All they ended up doing was offending someone who really did experience a head injury in their store, and made this Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs come across as even more insincere and uncompassionate than the brand had already proven to be.
Lesson 4: Yes, it’s true that you cannot please everyone. However, that should not be your excuse to not even try. Their in-store customer care was a fail that was met with an online customer care fail. Before hiding behind yet another excuse as to why it’s not important to even try, begin by putting the correct policies and procedures in place, training your staff and doing everything right. Only once you’ve at least tried to do everything right, can you come to terms with not being able to please everyone (DKNY is a beautiful example of this). And further more, it is not the journalists you should focus on, but rather your customers, fans and followers (which I was). Do that well and the journalists will praise you and use you as a good example for others.
Lesson 5: Train your Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs! Such amateur mistakes should not have been made by someone with the title of Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.