McAfee Apologizes for PC Screw Up. Is It Enough?

McAfee dragon.

It’s the little things that matter, like acknowledging when you’ve made a mistake. The bad updates that were pushed through to several McAfee clients this week threw a wrench in many a schedule, with the company doing little to explain why a product that’s intended to protect computers did the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to do. Last night, Barry McPherson, executive vice president of support and customer service, issued an apology for the bad update, but are users any happier?

This first apology from McAfee on an executive level was relatively well-received, even though it came nearly two days after the company first posted information on the bad update it sent out to customers. The apology, posted on the company blog, also had a basic explanation of what the crippling issue was–changes made to McAfee’s quality assurance methods essentially let something fall through the cracks.

Which seems a little backwards–it’s a security company. Preventing situations such as the one they caused is kind of what McAfee is supposed to do. It’s their thing. One of the primary things McAfee is supposed to do is test against security breaches, such as the one they rolled out, affecting thousands of PCs.

While the explaination of McAfee’s debacle still leaves us rather wary, it was the apology from a company executive that really helped to smooth things over from a public relations standpoint. Having published a blog post about the woes of dealing with the bad DAT file and the company’s ongoing efforts to resolve the issue, many commenters gave McAfee quite a tongue-lashing anyway, even about the missing apology.

Not only did McAfee’s initial response to the bad DAT file create a good amount of stress for those computers it affected, but many customers felt the lack of an apology added insult to injury. When it come to failing at a central aspect of your service, accountability can go a long way. An explicit apology from McAfee demonstrates accountability and a dedication to existing customers, some of which the company lost with this week’s situation.

Whether or not McAfee’s mistake is unforgivable is a matter for individual customers to determine–was this such a dire mistake that they will leave the company all together? Though the percentage of computers running McAfee affected by the bad DAT update is relatively tiny, the matter of public relations and holding its own company responsible for its mistakes is the type of behavior customers expect to see.

The image of the McAfee brand is wrapped not only in its product, but in the way it handles its products once it leaves the company and makes its way to consumers. While the apology from McAfee is considered late by some counts, it’s better than never having an apology at all.

Mcafee is represented by PR agency DKC PR.

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