Social video marketing isn't only about creating entirely positive new experiences for customers. Sometimes it involves demonstrating responsibility when you make mistakes, and how you make amends. I feature some video apology examples of Domino's Pizza from both their national headquarters and a local franchisee owner; and also some tips on how doing your own video apology can be successful in your own business.
Business Benefits of the Customer Apology
It's expected for anyone in any business to make mistakes. What's especially important in business is how to be responsible for our mistakes. When a customer or group of customers feels like they have not been treated satisfactorily by your own business, and their complaint is reasonable (or even if you don't think their complaint is reasonable but they sincerely feel the way they do), offering an apology that's done right can actually create a feeling of empowerment for the customer.
"Apology is not just a social nicety. It is an important ritual, a way of showing respect and empathy for the wronged person. It is also a way of acknowledging an act that, if otherwise left unnoticed, might compromise the relationship." says psychotherapist and author Beverly Engel, from her book "The Power of the Apology.”
In business, the apology falls on a degree of two things: 1) A sense of actual moral responsibility, and 2) a strategic reason based purely on business decision. An apology that is directed at one's one customers should serve several things in customer relationship management: Customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer loyalty.
A successful apology in business should demonstrate the following:
- A sense of ownership
- A sense of responsibility
- Directly saying what it is you're taking responsibility for.
- A degree of emotional sympathy
- An actual remedy you intend to implement (or have already implemented.
Why Do A Customer Apology in a Public Video?
Remember what I said earlier about how an apology can make a customer feel empowered? Well, a willingness to make your apology public, and in a video that you can let others share and comment on, can add a huge degree of transparency and believability to your efforts. Compare it to how you would feel receiving an apology from someone in an e-mail (where text can be misconstrued in it's meaning under emotional situations), versus an apology face-to-face. A video can be the next-best thing to having a face-to-face apology, because you can see and hear it, which carries an extra degree of visibility (and again, done right, empathy.) A video apology simply feels more "real.”
For more resources on the business benefits of the customer apology, I recommend reading "The Perfect Business Apology – A Guide to Business Apologies" and wikiHow's "How to Apologize.”
The Domino's Pizza Apology Video: "Making It Right”
You may recall the Domino's Prank Video posted on YouTube back in 2009 by two Domino's pizza workers, which brought national media attention. It ended up not only getting the two employees fired and convicted of criminal charges, but it also brought a large amount of negative publicity to the entire Domino's restaurant chain and their corporate headquarters.
The survey company MediaCurves.com™ did it's own survey of 243 Americans watching the YouTube "prank" video, and reported that 65% of respondents who initially would visit a Domino's or order Domino's for delivery, were less likely to visit a Domino's chain or order. It was a clear example of how a single video on YouTube started a media frenzy that sickened many people to Domino's Pizza and was responsible for a notable drop in their sales.
MediaCurves's study also included a survey of the same 243 Americans to test the believability of Dominos USA President, Patrick Doyle, as he apologized for the prank video. The real-time measurement showed how believable Doyle came across in being apologetic…
…But customers were still not convinced. The report cited that "after respondents viewed the Domino's apology video, their likelihood to visit and order from Domino's increased slightly, but it was still a significant drop from the result prior to viewing the employee video.”
Does that mean their apology video wasn't successful? On the contrary, it was successful for the first step, which was simply issuing an apology. But because so much damage had been done with the video prank, Domino's realized they had to do a lot more than a single video apology if they were going to bring people back to their stores. They also needed to offer a remedy that customers could appreciate.
Domino's Video Apology Follow-Up: "Show Us Your Pizza" Contest
That following year in 2010, Domino's took their initial apology to another level by launching a "Show Us Your Pizza" contest website, including user-submitted videos of people's pizza experiences with Domino's. They also featured a few videos of their head chef, done in a combination of professional production and UGC-style. They also showed delivering a new pizza directly to a customer who got a botched order (and showed the photo of that customer's original "pizza disaster" he submitted to them.) The YouTube video below is a great example of how to combine an apology with a remedy, and the customer response. It showcases the customer's original story, a photo of the original pizza, and sharing in the customer's satisfaction of getting a new pizza. It's a great example of how to turn a business mistake into an opportunity to connect with your customers.
Domino's Chicago and Social Video Marketer's Own "Pizza Apology”
Domino's USA social video marketing activities was also emulated by one of it's own franchisee owners, who did his own apology video that proved to be fairly popular on YouTube. I received this video example below from Ramon DeLeon, an Operating Partner of a Dominos Pizza Franchise in Chicago, which also shows up with an image thumbnail in a Google search for "domino's apology." In this video, Ramon mentions a customer in response to a Tweet about getting one of her pizzas wrong. (Ramon assured me that the video is a real example with a real customer.)
Ramon also told me that he also sent out some "Thank-you" videos, where they record with a customer eating their pizza that can be viewed online in real-time. (I haven't actually received any of those videos from Ramon yet or seen them anywhere online, but it sounds like a nice idea.) Ramon has stayed active with social video marketing, and informed me that recently spoke at Domino's Pizza College Campus to fellow managers' and franchisee owners on using social media in sales.
18 Business Tips for Doing Your Own "Video Apology”
Before you go out and just starting making apologies, it's a smart idea to have a plan for this type of business strategy. A video that's poorly done can actually work against you, so I recommend following these tips I've put together on how to do a web video customer apology.
- Read up on how to apologize.
I recommend reading wikihow's "How to Apologize." It offers a great list tips when and how to apologize, and they're good for maintain a degree of professionalism and accountability, while protecting your own reputation online.
- Keyword strategy: Mark the title of your video with the keyword "apology" or "customer apology.” In your text description, give a paragraph summary of what your apology is and whom it's for. (You can also include when the original incident happened if there was one, and when the apology was issued.) Also consider using other popular keyword phrases like "customer service, "customer service tips," and "customer satisfaction.”
- Make your apology right at the beginning of your video. An apology video should start with an actual apology. Be sure you say at the beginning of your video what are you apologizing for, and to whom.
- Acknowledge how your customers feel. Empathize with what they may have gone through as a result of your business activities. Customers need to feel like they are being both listened to and understood by you.
- Keep excuses to a minimum. It's all right to explain what may have caused the situation leading to an apology, but keep the focus on how it affects your customers and not so much on what excuses you have.
- Stress the positive. Mention the positives of your business and your customers, and how important it is for you to meet their needs.
- Show a human face. This sounds obvious, but I've seen apology videos where it's just text, or only a narration without an actual visual of someone.
- Show someone who's actually responsible, and who's in charge. Customers don't want to feel that this is just being turned over to their PR agency or a complaints department. They need to see the person who's actually responsible, and who can set things right.
- Don't wait. The sooner you get out your apology, the better. Don't wait until the backlash is overwhelming. The earlier you do your apology, the more genuine it will come across.
- Be sincere. If you aren't believable, a video will only end up doing more damage. Even if you are sincere, you may need to follow how you come across in a recorded video. Definitely get feedback from your staff, business colleagues and friends. If you find you do have problems with how you come across on camera, then having someone else in the video may prove helpful with engaging them in a real conversation about the incident.
- Don't just say it, show it. Show or explain in your video exactly what you're willing to do to make amends. This can include video footage of what you're already doing, or what you will be doing. (If you can't get any footage, then just using still photos in a video with audio narration can be sufficient. But again, you will still want to show yourself or a responsible representative in an actual video clip right at the beginning.)
- Get permission from your customers before identifying them. If you are addressing a customer by name, then it's usually a good idea to ask if you can mention them by name in any video you make public, because they may not want any publicity themselves. (It's safest to address them by first-name only, but if they're willing to give out their full name, that's even better. Don't push it though, and figure out what their comfort level may be after you've remedied the situation.)
- Test it out with a focus group or colleagues. Most companies can't rely on having a survey company like MediaCurves, but even sharing the video among friends or colleagues can give you important feedback on what you need to revise in your video before you make it public.
- Make it authentic as possible. Make sure it's real – have nothing staged! That means no one pretending any activity behind the person who's talking, and certainly not any paid actors. Use real employees (and if you're fortunate enough to get them on camera, use real customers as well.) Online video is about transparency, and any lack of it will derail your apology efforts.
- Distribute to where your customers are online. Send the apology video to where you know your customer communities are. That definitely includes YouTube and Facebook, but also consider any local site directories where you believe your consumers may flock to.
- Distribute an advance copy of the video to key influencers. Find out who's been blogging about your situation (if there is one), and offer them an advance copy of a video, so they can blog about it when it's released to the general public. The feedback they provide could prove very helpful for how you do future customer relationship videos, and without the added cost of hiring a consumer survey group.
- Feature your customers on video. Ask any of your best "turnaround" customers if they'd be willing to go on video with you and share their experience, from beginning to the present. (Have yourself on camera with them as well helps show your commitment to customer relationships.)
- Keep up the customer engagement. Continue to put out videos with new developments you've made with your food and your customer services. Ask your customers to submit their own videos with their experiences and questions, and especially offer to do videos of them wherever you'll be at. (It's not a bad idea to do quick videos of any customers any time they come by your store as they're getting their order, too.)
I hope you'll find these examples and tips helpful for when the times comes that your business may have to do its own "video apology." The Domino's Pizza example shows that using video can be a great way of turning around public perception and stressing the importance to your customers that they come first – something which should be at the core of social marketing. Do it right and you'll not only improve customer retention and loyalty, but main actually gain new customers from your social video marketing efforts.