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Effectively apologising to customers

Posted on 20 January '16 by , under General News.

Quite often, the words ‘I’m sorry’ aren’t enough for an unsatisfied customer. Whether it is because you had to deny a request, made a mistake with an order or left a customer waiting to be served for too long, there will always a time when a business will need to apologise to their customer.

While it might seem tricky trying to find the right way to apologise to a customer, businesses should always remember that apologies are key to showing a business’s commitment to meeting their needs and satisfying their requests.

So instead of coming off as insincere with just an ‘I’m sorry’, here are some tips for delivering a genuine apology to a disgruntled customer:

  • Avoid a ‘non-apology’

Businesses need to be able to recognise the kind of language that conveys regret and remorse, and the kind that can turn an apology into a dismissal or condescension. Before apologising to a customer, make sure the words you use have any hint of defensiveness. Being testy or on edge can also make your apology come across as a non-apology.

  • Listen carefully

Actively listening to a customer’s problem can help businesses come up with a good apology. It helps businesses understand exactly why they are issuing an apology. Customers are more likely to accept an apology if they believe that their struggle has been truly understood.

  • Take responsibility

Sometimes what you are apologising for isn’t necessarily your fault. But if you’re the person who is representing as the face of a business, the blame will need to go somewhere. Apologise on behalf of your team and acknowledge where things went wrong. Taking responsibility shows customers that their issue hasn’t been taken lightly.

  • Offer explanations

If a customer wants to know why something went wrong, the business must be able to tell them why. However, businesses also need to cushion an explanation with adequate measures of blame, e.g. “Your problem happened because of X. However, this is no reason why you had to wait for so long.”

  • Communicate the solution

Tell the customer what comes next or what options are available. Customers want to know that the business will actually make things right again.