The Best Email Blunder Comeback Ever

by Anne Reuss

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In the midst of some serious turbulence at 34,000 feet, I needed some distraction. Rather than contemplate how white my knuckles were turning from gripping my own legs, I opened up my laptop and thought about something awesome: the micromoment of the Month!

Jeannie was at the Customer Experience Professional Association (CXPA) Insights Exchange and the organization wanted some feedback so they emailed their attendees.

According to the email,  everybody’s name was “Shannon.”

Would you freak out if you accidentally did the same thing?

I remember very clearly one day, while six months into my first job out of college managing social media accounts and the occasional newsletter,  I made a mistake:  I included a broken link in one of our emails.

My boss at the time was quite disappointed and I was tempted to call it a day (or week to be honest!) and hide behind my bed covers.

Until my co-worker at the time emailed me to let me know I wasn’t alone in this disaster I had created in my head. He told he he had made his own share of slip-ups and everything would turn out OK. He was right.

No matter what stage of  your career you find yourself, a mistake will trigger feelings of disappointment or panic. Of course we don’t want to let our team down. However, with marketing and other outreach activities, there IS a unique opportunity to turn a blunder into a memorable experience for your customers. The CXPA proved that with their comeback email following the snafu of referring to everybody as Shannon.


Let’s take a look at proactive “customer service” in action!

First things first: They acknowledged that they realized Shannon was not the only member of CXPA. Thank you.


Second, they crafted a personalized, human and spirited email that made it easy to forgive them and hopefully  act through with their call-to-action.)


Take the cue from the minds behind the email and discover how you can recover from similar mistakes (IF they happen).

1) Be Playful & Unique

Instead of sending out the standard apology (which is totally acceptable but if you’re trying to be different from everybody else, it doesn’t stand out as much) they did something even more memorable than accidentally calling everybody Shannon.

The real Shannon appeared in the email with a picture. It’s hard to be angry at that smiling face, no?

2) Make Them Forget the Mistake through Personalization & Being Human

It’s easier to forget the mistake when they respond proactively in a human and personalized manner. The email made it clear they recognized the subscriber as an individual in their subject line and included the name in the copy.

Even better, Shannon was NOT a stock photo. Images matter to the experience.

They also did a lovely job of reminding their readers of the original call-to-action: share your feedback!

Shannon would like it, after all. See the difference? It’s easier to imagine sharing feedback with the smiling gal than the CXPA organization. Better Shannon than an amorphous organization.

3) Keep Your Cool

It was hard to imagine anybody from CXPA freaking out when they realized the naming mistake because of their cool comeback. Little mistakes DO happen though and the best bit of advice I can give you for managing them is:

1) Find your zen moment. Then…

2) Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself:

  • What would make them cool again?
  • How would I like them to make up for their mistake?
  • What would be really annoying in their efforts to apologize?”

Bottom line: Customers (gasp!) and your employers (double gasp) know you’re human.

If you can react proactively to mistakes like a human in a personalized and playful manner, you will have a stronger impact as compared to the original mistake. Remember they are merely opportunities to become creative!

Are there fun ways you’ve personally made a neat comeback from a mistake you can share with us!?

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Image Credit: Celestine Chua via Creative Commons license

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