Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

January 22, 2015

Can you remember the last time you said sorry.  Did it diffuse and improve the situation?  (Comment below)

If you’re human, you make mistakes.  If you make a mistake, you apologise … lesson 101 from our childhood.  End of story.

Yet so many times, instead of sorry we hear excuses.  Sorry does seem to be the hardest word.

In today’s world, where customers and upset clients have the ability to promote their complaints online across their social media accounts, how you say sorry can make or break you.  Some do this better than others.  In the corporate world there are whole departments whose job it is to say sorry!

Owning up to our mistakes is part of business and hopefully you’re not making too many but when they do happen, saying sorry goes a long way toward a positive relationship with your customer.

The 6-step Apology Process

  1. Say you are sorry.
  2. Clearly state what you did wrong.
  3. Acknowledge how the receiving party must be feeling.
  4. Express your sincere regret.
  5. Promise not to repeat the behaviour.
  6. Document the complaint.

A good example (result: improved relationship):

“Jackie, I am so sorry you didn’t receive the invoice in time.  I understand this meant you missed your deadline  and caused you to feel frustrated, I regret this and assure you it won’t happen again.  Your invoice has now been set up so you will receive it 2 days prior to your deadline and I assure you that this won’t happen again.”

A not so good example (result: unhappy customer)

“Jackie I had sent the invoice, there must be something wrong with your email.  I’ll resend it but I’m sure you should have it already.”

This could be correct, you might even have the sent email.  But it’s not about whether you are right or wrong.  It’s about how your customer is feeling … and, if you are in error, what systems need to be put in place to ensure this isn’t replicated.  In this case, the apology I would make is, “Jackie I am so sorry.  I had sent the email (see attached) however I should have followed up to make sure you had received, knowing this invoice was critical.  You shouldn’t have had to miss your deadline and in the future I will follow up so this doesn’t happen again.”  Better?

Saying sorry is one of the simplest things to do, I had to do it today (thus the post).  When someone apologises to me, it immediately makes me feel better.  Heard.  Cared About.  It matters.

If you made it all the way to the bottom, thank you for reading!  Please comment if you have something to share and if you’d like to receive my weekly blog straight to your inbox, please subscribe here.  I’d absolutely love that!





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