Why sorry needn’t be the hardest word

  05 January 2015

Mistakes happen. And saying ‘sorry’ when you do something wrong is good for business. Have you thought, though, about how you and your staff apologise to customers?

Merely saying ‘We made a mistake’ or ‘I’m sorry that you’re unhappy’ isn’t enough. It’s (arguably) worse that offering no apology at all. That said, keeping the words of contrition short before moving to more positive ground is no bad thing.

But if the apology is to carry any weight it must be sincere and, most importantly, contain acknowledgement of the grievance and some sense of how amends might be made.

Like this, perhaps: ‘Mrs Edwards, I apologise for the poor experience you have had from us today. We value your business and we recognise that we failed to deliver the service you expected and that we like to deliver.

‘We will look into this further to ensure that we do better for you next time.’

Here the person apologising not only takes proper responsibility for any shortcomings, but also promises to do better in future. It has got to be that learning the art of saying sorry will contribute vastly to a business.

Your staff need guidance from you, perhaps, first to let them know that apologies are ok to make (and without referral upwards). That done, a little coaching on how to say sorry effectively can only be a good thing.

Finally, when management make a mistake and staff suffer, make sure that you apologise correctly to them. It starts at the top.

Ray Castle

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