The Power of Sorry

The first and, arguably, the most important of the Agile Values, is commitment. For companies, this means an authentic commitment to customers.

There are two sides of this commitment. The first is to create new value for them. The other side is making things right for them when things go wrong.

We talk a lot about the first side of this commitment, focused on creating customer delight. But equally important is how we respond when we have disappointed them. Because we will. We are human and technologies we depend on fail.

Trust is mostly deeply forged during difficult times. How we respond when we have disappointed matters. And it starts by owning the problem - by saying "sorry" and then quickly following up by actions that not only address their issue, but then putting in place processes to reduce a repeat of this issue for them and others.

The sorry has to be real. It has to be felt, from the heart.

When customers know that the sorry is real, their anger and frustration often quickly dissipates. They have been heard, they don't need to keep talking more loudly to convince us to act. We then need to act fast and decisively. And if we do, we can build longstanding loyalty.