As a battle-hardened commuter with thousands of miles under my belt, it’s not often you’ll find me paying compliments to a train company, but here I am.
Southern Rail apologises
Recent bad weather caused a landslip on our line, disrupting journeys for a number of days. Here’s the letter of apology that Mrs Leader received as a season ticket holder:
Dear Mrs Leader
Oxted Landslip – A little something to say sorry
We realise that the landslip at Oxted caused extensive disruption to your journeys, although we did our utmost to provide the best service possible in the circumstances.
Network Rail worked hard to rebuild the embankment so that we could restore a full service to the Uckfield and East Grinstead lines.
In recognition of the extended journey times and inconvenience caused we have awarded you £50.00 worth of M&S vouchers.
Again we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Contact Centre Manager
Southern & Gatwick Express Customer Services
The compensation seems adequate (Mrs Leader is happy) and it comes in the form of vouchers which can be used for personal items rather than from the originating category (Mrs Leader is happy) and the apology letter is pretty good (Mr Leader is happy…)
The art of the apology letter
The Southern letter isn’t perfect, but it’s not bad.
Sadly, I’ve written a few of these in my time, and here are the golden rules:
- Keep it short and simple
- Accept blame at the start – even if it’s your suppliers who’ve let you down
- Explain what you’ve done to alleviate the situation/prevent reoccurrence and how you will compensate the customer (if appropriate)
- Reiterate the apology
- Ensure the letter is from a named individual, not a department or the company