car2go Apology Goes Above and Beyond

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    Genuine care delivers crisis management dividends

    We see a lot of apologies these days, but more often than not they fail to hit home. Whether they’re lacking critical components like compassion, competence and confidence dragging or they take the route of the ugly “non-apology”, it seems tough for many to say “I’m sorry”.

    That’s why, when our colleague Phil Cogan forwarded this spectacular message that went out to customers of car service car2go, we knew we had to share:

    Yesterday, at 4:30pm CST, our car2go vehicles experienced a disruption in service that was directly related to our Germany-based mobile provider. At that time, our provider had undergone a malfunction within their network that disabled cell phone roaming, resulting in a break in remote connection with all of our car2go vehicles across North America and their network in Germany. Thus, members were not able begin or end their trips until the issue was resolved at 12:54am CST today.

    Actions are quickly being taken to mitigate this occurrence from happening again, but in complete transparency, since we are only 24 hours fresh, we are at the beginning stages of analysis to understand the root causes with our provider. Stability of our network has always and is still a core focus, but last night’s disruption strengthened our resolve to get a solution more quickly.

    We all here at car2go feel the disappointment and the distress that we put many of you through. We heard it through phone calls, tweets, posts, and emails since the disruption started. For those members who have shared, “That’s it…I am done with car2go.” I totally understand why. But I hope that you know that each of us here are members as well, and that with each heartfelt apology we wrote – we sincerely meant it. We didn’t shy away from this event – we owned up to it as quickly as we found out, and worked throughout the night to communicate to all of you via the channels we have in the toolbox. Are there things we need to improve with the communications? There’s always room for improvement, but please know that it was my call to utilize the resources we had to its maximum impact.

    For those who were directly impacted, our teams will be in contact with you shortly, if they haven’t already. For many of our members who were indirectly impacted, I can tell you that it is on us to restore your faith in our service in the days, months, and years to come.

    After this week’s announcement of car2go being the largest carsharing company in the world, I could look at this as a huge embarrassment. But to be honest with you, last night’s disruption was a defining moment for us. It showed me – and all of our team members across North America – that even though we are the largest carsharing company in the world, we remained true to you, our members – that during a sensitive time, we demonstrated the responsibility and the compassion as a leading brand should. I saw and heard the grace our car2go team exhibited into the early morning hours working on this issue, and I also saw and heard the many of you say “Thanks, car2go – we still love ya.” And that, that means the world to us.

    On behalf of car2go, I truly apologize for the inconvenience and trouble that the disruption caused you, and I want to promise each of you that, as a company, we will continue to improve and innovate our service to help you get from Point A to B with complete ease. And for those who have expressed their disdain for our apologies, I ask that you don’t put that on our team – the team who will be working hard the next several days on this, put that anger on ME.

    Personally committed,

    Paul DeLong
    Chief Marketing Officer
    car2go NA, LLC

    Above & beyond, ladies and gentlemen. This apology came across as genuine because it was, with CMO Paul DeLong’s concern for his customers showing through and through. Communication like this is the kind that saves stakeholders on their way out the door, as well as snagging new ones intrigued by your handling of a trying situation. Kudos car2go, for providing this excellent example of crisis management done right.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]

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