The risk of NOT apologizing to customers
When you do business in global market, it is quite common understanding that it is risky to apologize to customers immediately after you have problems with your products. That is because apology means that you admit your fault. However, in case of the business in Japan, it is totally different. If you do not apologize to your customers immediately after the trouble, you will soon loose the business with your customers which is the biggest risk.
Global companies tend to be careful with apology because of the risk of lawsuit. However in Japan, there is much less risk of lawsuit. Or, if you apology immediately, the risk of lawsuit will be reduced.
There is a story about one of the major elevator company called Schindler. This company have 2nd biggest market share in global elevator market. (In Japan, they have only 1% market share, though). And in June 2006, there was a tragic accident. A high school student died because of the ?defect of Schindler’s elevator.
The defect was that the elevator suddenly went up with the door open when a high school student was going into the elevator. And in the same day, this student passed away.
The problem was that Schindler did not show up in the media to explain about this accident, and did not apologize about it immediately after this accident. However in Japanese culture, even if they have not completed the investigation about this accident, they should have shown up in the media to apologize. And the president of Schindler finally showed up 9 days after the accident, which is apparently too late.
Therefore Japanese mass communication criticized Schindler very strongly. And as a consequence, a lot of Schinlder’s customers stopped to do business with them. Therefore the current situation of Schindler Japan is very severe.
Therefore it is wiser way to apologize to your Japanese customers when you have problems with your products. And if you apologize to them earlier, the anger of the customer will be much reduced.