In apology over shortage, J&J on first-name basis with consumers

    Shortages of o.b. tampons this year have led women to stockpile them. Now, Johnson & Johnson, faced with an angry customer base, is offering a musical apology.

    Shortages of o.b. tampons this year have led women to stockpile them, even driving the asking price of one variety up to $80 for a box of 40 on eBay. Now, Johnson & Johnson, faced with an angry customer base, is offering a musical apology.

    Some women prefer the non-applicator tampons because they are smaller, easier to tuck into a pocket and, they say, more environmentally friendly.

    Johnson & Johnson has been vague in explaining why the product has been in short supply over the past year. Now, the company hopes a handsome crooner can solve their customer service problems.

    Type in your name on the o.b. website, and a personalized music video pops up.

    A man at a white piano on the beach sings directly to you, spelling your name out in rose petals and with a tattoo.

    “We were really super wrong, so here’s a tender song,” he sings.

    “That has to be the best corporate apology I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Lauren Bloom, who wrote the book “The Art of the Apology.”

     

    The six essential elements of an effective apologyfrom “The Art of the Apology: How to Apologize Effectively to Practically Anyone,” by Lauren Bloom

    Say you’re sorry … sincerely!
    Take responsibility for what you did wrong.
    Express appreciation to the person or people to whom you’re apologizing, thanking them for whatever makes them important to you.
    Listen to what the other person or people have to say about their experience of what you did wrong.
    Make amends, ideally putting the other person into the same or even a better position than they were in before your mistake.
    Do better next time, taking affirmative steps to prevent the same mistake from happening again.

    “They hit all the elements of an effective apology, really, they first of all said they were sorry, they took responsibility for what they did,” Bloom said, and, they offered to make amends with a coupon.

    Bloom said back in the 1980s, Johnson & Johnson set the bar for corporate apologies when someone was poisoning Tylenol before it got to store shelves.

    “They could have done the ‘It’s not our fault, check your drugstore shelves,’ but they didn’t,” Bloom said. “Instead they said ‘This is our product, we’re going to recall all of it until we’re sure it’s all right, and then we’re going to turn around and redesign our packaging so that it isn’t possible for it to happen again.’ “

    Bloom said Johnson & Johnson’s apology acumen has helped protect the company’s reputation, even through a rash of recent recalls.

    Drexel University marketing professor Daniel Korschun, though, said the video could leave some customers feeling laughed at instead of with.

    “I think they could do it more in keeping with the traditional J&J approach,” Korschun said, “which is to be honest, frank and explain the situation without trying to make a joke out of it.”

    The video is meant as an apology for both a shortage of o.b. products over the past year and the companies’ discontinuation of its ULTRA variety, which it said may be back on shelves sometime next year.

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