Apologies are an unfortunate, but an essential part of every business. As the illustration states, well formed apologies can be like an art form, but well-handled, they can restore and build relationships with angry customers. Here are tips to help make yours more effective.
Listen carefully, but also show the customer that you are, indeed, doing so. When meeting in person, everything from your body posture (leaning forward), eye contact, and nodding should demonstrate your sincere attention. Whether meeting live or on the phone, repeating or paraphrasing what the customer is saying is essential not only for demonstrative purposes, but also for the clarity of both parties.
Be timely, and do so quickly. Pause long enough to gain time to settle down and prepare, but any delay conveys that you don’t care about the customer or don’t want to face the issue.
Stay cool and take the “high road.” Never match the customer’s disdain or lack of respect.
Research to get the facts whatever you can quickly do before you contact the customer, and then take time to quickly consider any possible solutions.
Call or meet in person. Emails don’t suffice. You may want to follow up with an email or better yet, a handwritten letter.
Don’t assume that you know what will resolve the situation. Be prepared with options.
The wording of “I apologize” is much more effective that the tired, almost trite “I’m sorry.” “I apologize” is more inclusive and conveys regret, but also shows accountability.
Take more than your share of the apology. You have to own your entire portion without seeking them to own theirs. This usually means owning the entire problem in your apology. Remember, one of the things you are trying to do is get past this point in the business relationship. You won’t accomplish that doing “guilt fractions.
Focus on what happens next. Close out the issue with the person and then move to immediate next steps. Time may heal, but action accelerates it.
An apology can either make or break a relationship, and with it a business so take your time to insure that everyone who must do so, does it correctly.