One of the best things you can do for your business is have the guts to stand up
and take full responsibility
for your screwups. Too often, businesses tend to minimize their errors
or sweep the screwup under the rug
. This works right up until the public notices and when they do, there's all kinds of hell to pay. Word spreads fast on the internet, much faster than most companies seem to realize.
On the bright side, good news travels equally fast when companies do the right thing and take care of their customers. This is one of those all-too-rare occasions when a company goes above and beyond
what anyone expects and turns customers into lifelong fans.
The Consumerist has an amazing story of customer service gone exactly right
. The company is Stardock, the publisher behind "Elemental: War of Magic," a strategy game that was released as a buggy mess a couple of years back. This (unfortunately) isn't unusual. Games get rushed to market for several reasons and end users are left to either deal with something nearly unplayable or install patch after patch to get their brand new purchase up and running. So, while screwed up releases may not be unusual, what followed absolutely is. Customers who purchased "Elemental" received a letter from the CEO of Stardock that not only apologized
for releasing a lousy game, but actually offered something way more valuable than lip service:
Dear Stardock customer,
My name is Brad Wardell. I’m the President & CEO of Stardock. Two years ago, you bought a game from us called Elemental: War of Magic. We had great hopes and ambitions for that game but, in the end, it just wasn’t a very good game.
Elemental was an expensive game. You probably paid $50 or more for it. And you trusted us to deliver to you a good game. $50 is a lot of money and companies have a moral obligation to deliver what they say they’re going to deliver and frankly, Stardock failed to deliver the game we said we were going to deliver…
Its design just wasn’t adequate to make it into the kind of game it should be. So we decided to start over. From scratch. We made a new game called Fallen Enchantress.
So even though it’s been two years, we haven’t forgotten about you. This week, we released Fallen Enchantress. It is a vastly better game and, we believe, lives up to the expectations set for the original Elemental. This game is yours. Free. It’s already been added to your account…
Thank you for being our customers and your patience.
President & CEO
Not only is it highly unusual for developers to apologize for crafting an underpar game, it's even more unusual for them to take the extra step and offer their latest game absolutely free. Wardell takes advantage of the technology at hand to keep the affected users from having to make any effort on their part to get their replacement game ("It's already been added to your account...
Stardock realizes that each game its customers purchase takes a bit of their time and money, and both commodities are in limited supply. This gesture doesn't ask for any more of those two commodities, and goes a long way towards securing something else only available in limited quantities: trust.
Wardell and Stardock are investing in their own future by taking care of their customers now. By doing the unexpected, fans who were burned by "Elemental" will be more likely to take a look at Stardock's upcoming offerings. And even if they felt "Elemental" wasn't that bad, hey... free game! How often does that happen? Either way, a ton of goodwill and positive word-of-mouth is being generated, something no company can purchase.