Hannants: the very model of a perfect apology

By Chris Bucholtz

I’ve never seen a company so willing to apologize, and so quick to both fall on its own sword with customers and be completely transparent about issues that affect them, than Hannants, a hobby shop in the United Kingdom.

It’s not like they make many mistakes. This is a pretty well-run business. But bad things happen to all businesses, through their own mistakes or because of the mistakes of their partners. I wrote about a case of the latter two years ago when the credit card fulfillment company Hannants used suffered a security breach. Hannants dealt with it masterfully and turned a crisis into a rallying point for customers.

This email came to me yesterday – it’s another brilliant apology:

“Firstly an apology. We would like to apologise for the poor selection of kits, decals and accessories we have had in the London Colindale shop recently. We were constantly being told how the country was in a bad financial depression and no one had any money to spend so rather than buy stock we didn’t think we would sell we decided to reduce our stock levels by not replacing everything we sold as we would normally do.

We have now realised that it take a lot more than a bad economic depression to come between a modeller and his hobby!

So, with this in mind, we have just had a massive re-stock. And we do mean MASSIVE!”

A few things of note:

They could have simply trumpeted the new merchandise. But they didn’t.

They could have simply said they were responding to complaints. Instead, they put the onus for the apology on their own deficient planning. Hannants took responsibility.

After apologizing, they paid their customers a compliment (and, believe me, saying that scale modelers are committed to the hobby regardless of the economy really is a compliment!).

The apology wasn’t followed by a list of new things (that email goes out Fridays!). It was followed up by an offer for pre-orders to be picked up by customers at an upcoming airshow where Hannants would be selling. In other words, an offer of a special service intended to save customers postal costs.

No one apologizes as perfectly as Hannants. Keep their example in mind when you make a mistake or a miscalculation – done right, it’s a chance to do right by your customers and even strengthen the relationship.