Do you have a “Chief Apology Officer”?

Let’s face it. If you’re in business, there’s going to be at least some problems. That’s business. So what do you do when things go wrong?

Southwest Airlines has what has been dubbed as a “Chief Apology Officer”. In reality he is Fred Taylor, Senior Manager of Proactive Customer Service Communications. (Listen to a podcast interview with Fred here). In his job, he “deals with customers on days when travel plans go awry.”

When I first heard of the Chief Apology Officer I was worried. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the concept but I was worried that since this position would be dealing with “the problems” day in and day out that it may turn into a what-button-can-I-push-to-make-this-customer-go-away sort of attitude followed by a mechanical and hollow apology. However, Southwest Airlines seems to get it right. They respond quickly, they correct the situation and they make sure that the entire organization has the needed information and what is expected of them.

What are your thoughts of having a Chief Apology Officer? How might you offer apologies as part of your job without sounding mechanical or insincere?

Bonus: If you feel that having your own Chief Apology Officer would be beneficial (or if that responsibility rests on your shoulders) be sure to checkout the 10 steps for crisis communication.

Happy Wednesday!