Chief Apology Officer

Companies are discovering that hiring people to mollify critics and disappointed customers is cheaper (in the short run) than changing things, learning from the feedback or even wasting the time of people who do the ‘real work.’

The CAO doesn’t participate in tactical or strategic discussions, and probably can’t explain the dynamics that led to a given policy, or why it’s difficult to change. That’s not their job.

Their job is to make the customer or critic feel heard enough that they’ll accept the status quo without further fuss.

This is the tech support person who’s not allowed to acknowledge that the software has a bug, or the gate agent who is unable to report to the home office that the scheduling system is causing real problems for loyal customers.

In addition to eating away at the mollifier’s well-being, the work of the Chief Apology Officer is also ultimately doomed. By insulating the industrial system from the feedback loop that would improve it, these organizations doom themselves to a slow fade.

“Do you have any influence on how the organization is going to respond to this?” is a fair question. And the CAO can only honestly answer, “no.”

It’s a tough gig.