What would you do if a technical problem on your e-commerce website meant that wrong pricing information was posted for some time; customers took advantage of the low prices and, by the time you spotted it, the mistake added up to $1.6 million?
Here’s what Zappos did in relation to their 6pm.com online store:
[…] While we’re sure this was a great deal for customers, it was inadvertent, and we took a big loss (over $1.6 million – ouch) selling so many items so far under cost. However, it was our mistake. We will be honoring all purchases that took place on 6pm.com during our mess up. We apologize to anyone that was confused and/or frustrated during out little hiccup and thank you all for being such great customers. We hope you continue to Shop. Save. Smile. at 6pm.com.
Do you think this would be the outcome you’d expect from many companies doing substantial business online? Would it perhaps be more likely that, once the mistake was discovered, you immediately notified the customers, apologized and said anything purchased during the error period was a mistake, unfortunately it couldn’t be honored and here’s a $10 gift certificate to compensate you for any inconvenience.
After all, $1.6 million is a lot of money. A bunch of $10 gift certificates won’t amount to anything close to that and you’d still look good, wouldn’t you?
I think what Zappos have done is a terrific demonstration of transparency and, more significantly, simple honesty.
While you might argue that absorbing $1.6 million in this way doesn’t make much business sense, I’d argue that the goodwill, attention and ensuing customer satisfaction from their action surely outclasses $1.6 million. Especially today, where the internet amplifies word-of-mouth commentary and opinion at frightening speeds.
Take a look at what people are saying online already about this mistake and Zappos’ action. Do you get a sense of the overwhelming positive sentiment?
So I say: nice one, Zappos. You’re the model. And such an apt tag line to your logo.
How do you see it?