It’s common in business to have to
deal with an unhappy or even angry customer in instances where the company
has somehow dropped the ball or there has been a misunderstanding. Often
company representatives feel hesitant to offer an apology for fear of
further exposing the company or being forced to take the blame for something
they had nothing to do with. When is it appropriate to apologize to
a customer who is obviously upset? What about those instances where
the customer is at fault, like when they have failed to read disclaimers
Research has shown that fifty percent
of unhappy customers never receive an apology. Unfortunately this can
sour the customer’s experience even more than the actual incident.
Remember, the issue is never the issue. Your customer’s experience
is truly determined by the way a problem is handled. It is always appropriate
to offer a sincere apology, even when the problem is the customer’s
fault. I’ve had workshop participants absolutely balk at this idea,
but a sincere, carefully crafted apology is a powerful tool that puts
the customer service representative in control.
Firstly, it helps to calm down the
customer who is emotionally charged. Remember, many customers have never
received an apology before. Secondly, it gives you the opportunity to
show empathy to someone who is having a bad experience with your company.
Thirdly, it is an excellent prelude to ensuring your client understands
you want to make things right.
An off handed apology can be even more
agitating than no apology at all, so think before you speak. Put yourself
in the customer’s situation and understand what they are feeling.
Apologize for the experience that is being associated with your organization.
Never use the word
sorry. This word is weak and takes the focus
off the customer and puts it on you.
“Please accept my earnest apology
for the frustration this has caused you.”
This effectively shows you understand
what your customer is feeling without placing blame or accepting responsibility.
Apologize well to reduce profit loss and retain customers.
Kim Welcome is CEO of
Influential Voice, a Communication Trainer, Coach and Voice Actor; she
assists businesses and individuals to achieve their goals through
helping them to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication
skills. For more info www.influentialvoice.com