Appreciation for honesty

5 ICONIC Incidences in Consumer History that prove – Customers Totally Appreciate Honesty

Written by Sonal Jaiswal | Evangelist, Customer Guru

‘Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.’ – Spencer Johnson

Honesty is the best policy; we have heard this adage so many times in the past. It is fairly easy to say this, but difficult to stand by it. Contrary to popular belief, it takes a lot of courage to be honest, simply because it makes us accountable and vulnerable. It is fairly easy to mislead and present half truths to anyone, especially customers. And this is increasingly becoming the norm. This article will further establish the fact that customers genuinely respect and appreciate honesty. There are businesses that rose to the occasion and expressed solidarity with their customers, apologized and took it upon themselves to improve the situation. These are success stories that need to be told time and again as they just reinstate the fact that being true to your customer will result in better returns.

Here are 5 instances that prove that customers truly appreciate honesty!

Apple suggests customers to use Google!

In September 2012, Apple released its Apple Maps service as part as iOS 6. Upon its release, it received a lot of criticism and was ridiculed for being inaccurate. Apple had shifted from Google maps to create a better software, keeping the customers’ interest in mind. The thought was noble. Unfortunately, the product was not. Customers, including Apple’s most fervent followers, were angered.

Following this fiasco, the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, published an open letter to his customers apologizing for the poor performance delivered by the iOS Maps. He said that Apple had fallen short on the commitment it had made to the customers and that Apple would reach an incredibly high standard. He even suggested customers some alternatives, including Google and Nokia maps. This honest apology was lauded by customers and industry experts.

Cut to the future, Apple’s iOS Map is the talk of the town. Its unique feature of 3D map view is captivating the audience and its overall popularity is giving others a run for their money. According to, Apple Maps is now used more frequently than Google Maps on Apple’s mobile devices.

J.C. Penney apologises and wins!

In 2012, American mid-range departmental store, J.C. Penney had introduced a new pricing strategy where it slashed customer reliance on discount coupons. It said that the concept of inflated princes would be taken off and be replaced by a ‘fair and square’ structure. Not many of its customers were happy with this strategy, many of whom were appalled at not being able to use the coupons.

The result: The organization’s Q4 net loss amounted to a whopping $428 million. The following year, it withdrew the concept and reached out to its customers in an innovative fashion. It created an advertisement that ended with the statement ‘Come back to J.C. Penney, we heard you. Now, we’d love to see you’. This strategy worked so well that Q3 2015 results were over and above expectations.

Coke goes back to the old formula

In 1985, Coca-Cola launched its brand of ‘New Coke’. The response was nothing short of disastrous with consumers absolutely furious. One even went on to say ‘They changed my Coke, I can’t believe it!’ The team at Coke was surprised by the amazing emotional attachment that the customers had with the original name and taste. After a flood of complaints, the then Chairman of Coke, Roberto Goizueta, said ‘We have heard you’.

Coke went back to its original formula in just 79 days after the new launch. It went on to realize that marketing and business changes need to start with the customer, not the product.

Coke still is the number one soft drink brand in the world.

Apple’s ‘swift’ moves win!

It’s Apple yet again! In June of 2015, Taylor Swift boycotted the company complaining about a new policy that was introduced for its music streaming service. Apple decided not to compensate the music artists throughout the three-month tryout period.

Her letter read as follows:

“I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”

Apple was quick in its response and reversed the policy just hours after the note went up! Not only did the move do wonders for Apple, it also increased the consumer base of Apple Music. Keeping in view Apple’s customer base, it is en route to becoming the most successful streaming music provider.

Domino’s starts over

In 2009, Domino’s was going through a phase when customers were complaining of the taste of the pizza. Customers went on to even say “I think Domino’s pizza should start over.” And that’s what it did! It used the negative comments of its customer on its ads, saying that after numerous experiments with different flavours, it was finally able to create pizzas that satisfied its customers. It would be noteworthy to point out that Domino’s went back to the drawing board after being 50 years in business: a lesson of true commitment to customer values!

The customers acknowledged the efforts and the result was that sales rose and profits doubled.

Domino's Pizza Turnaround

‘The Pizza Turnaround’ Documentary is an amazing story of starting over. A definite must watch! Do have a look at how Domino’s delighted its most loyal customers.

Aren’t these five awesome instances that changed the way customers saw the company? Just goes on to show that if one is truly apologetic and wanting to make amends, customers realise this and definitely stick around! Are there any other companies that have made such moves, creating a more loyal customer base? Do share!

  • Another great article from Sonal Jaiswal! Here is my contribution of another company that apologized to its customers after not delivering a great customer experience. This is an excerpt from AirBnb’s Heartfelt Apology after a host’s home was vandalized by a guest. I originally shared this at, where you can also find a link to the excerpt under this same article:

    ”Last month, the home of a San Francisco host named EJ was tragically vandalized by a guest. The damage was so bad that her life was turned upside down. When we learned of this our hearts sank. We felt paralyzed, and over the last four weeks, we have really screwed things up. Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post trying to explain the situation, but it didn’t reflect my true feelings. So here we go. There have been a lot of questions swirling around, and I would like to apologize and set the record straight in my own words. In the last few days we have had a crash course in crisis management. I hope this can be a valuable lesson to other businesses about what not to do in a time of crisis, and why you should always uphold your values and trust your instincts.

    With regards to EJ, we let her down, and for that we are very sorry. We should have responded faster, communicated more sensitively, and taken more decisive action to make sure she felt safe and secure. But we weren’t prepared for the crisis and we dropped the ball. Now we’re dealing with the consequences. In working with the San Francisco Police Department, we are happy to say a suspect is now in custody. Even so, we realize that we have disappointed the community. To EJ, and all the other hosts who have had bad experiences, we know you deserve better from us.

    We want to make it right. On August 15th, we will be implementing a $50,000 Airbnb Guarantee, protecting the property of hosts from damage by Airbnb guests who book reservations through our website. We will extend this program to EJ and any other hosts who may have reported such property damage while renting on Airbnb in the past.

    We’ve built this company by listening to our community. Guided by your feedback, we have iterated to become safer and more secure. Our job’s not done yet; we’re still evolving. In the wake of these recent events, we’ve heard an uproar from people, both inside and outside our community. Know that we were closely listening.”

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