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How to apologize to a customer when you make a mistake

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No matter how much intelligent or experienced you are, you are still human and all humans make mistakes. So what to do if you make a mistake in your business and your customers suffer from it?

You should apologize, of course, but there are a few ways to say sorry.

Below I describe that.

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Image courtesy – Stuartmiles of Depositphotos.com

Accept your mistake

Accept genuinely that you are wrong. So when a customer complaints about a problem don’t say something like, “I’m so sorry you feel that way.” This statement implies the customer just feels that you are wrong, you are not actually wrong. You are in a way saying that the customer is deluded if he thinks you are wrong. So this is insulting the customer.

Also the word “sorry” does not always mean “please forgive me”.  It also has another meaning – “I feel sad for you”. And in the statement above the customer might think you are merely saying you are sad for him and not accepting you are wrong.

Instead you should say something like, “I’m sorry I didn’t resolve your issue.”

For more on this read this Forbes article.

Be quick

Don’t take it too easily. Apologize as soon as you discover that you have committed a mistake. React while the issue is fresh.

Apologizing four weeks later for the problem will go in vain. Many of your clients and customers may not return after so many days to check whether you have apologized or not. They may leave thinking you are an arrogant person who never accepts his mistakes.

Tell them what happened

Explain to them honestly what went wrong and where. Tell them what you are doing to fix it, how you are planning to rectify the damages caused and until when everything will be restored to normal. This will help you recover, if even some of, your lost trust.

Don’t try to be too cautious with timing. If you claim you will resolve the issue by Wednesday and you do that by Thursday you will ruin your reputation.

But if you promise you will get it done by Friday and resolve the error by Thursday you will be better off.

Fix the problem

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Image courtesy – Iqoncept of Depositphotos.com

Isn’t that obvious? Yes but too important that I must say it explicitly. You should fix the error as soon as possible.

Make sure it doesn’t happen again

Don’t think that saying sorry is your golden ticket to make as many mistakes as you like. You should try your best to minimize the number of mistakes you make. If you make too many mistakes and say sorry over and over again your customers will think you are not serious about your apologies.

Apologizing means three things. One – Accepting you are wrong. Two – Feeling sad about the problems caused. Three – Ensuring it isn’t repeated in the future.

Repeating your mistakes just means your apologies are all useless.

You may want to check out this apology of Moz to get an example of how to practically implement these teachings.

I hope this article would have helped you improve your customer service. Let me know in the comments below what you think about the article.

Jackson is a hard core developer in a wide variety of applications. He loves working on open source projects that relates to wordpress ticketing system, developing tools etc and tests on his own blog by adding different plugins related to wordpress.

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