Mistakes happen even to the best of us. However, what are you going to do about it? First thing you need to apologize to your customer. Yet, this is not enough. A sincere apology will not save your client relationship. It will just help you make the first step toward sorting things out. In this blog post I will share most valuable tips which will show how to apologize to your customers and what to do to save customer relationship in face of a mistake.
Admit your mistake
It is important to admit a mistake without any delay. This in turn will save your reputation and show your professional approach in dealing with stressful and complicated cases. On the other side, if you keep silence this will make people feel that you don’t care and you are not going to do anything.
Even if a mistake was not yours but your customers experienced service interruption or other inconveniences due to it, never shift it on other company. Just admit that you failed your customers because you chose unreliable business partner or service provider.
By pinning the blame on someone else or trying to get away with deflecting you will never save customer relationship. On the contrary, you will lose them and show your prospects incompetence to take responsibility for a mistake.
Even if it was a mistake of a particular person in your company, never shift it. In the eyes of your customer this will look as an attempt to deflect. Just admit that the mistake was made, take responsibility and apologize. These important steps will help you continue dialog with your customer and finally solve the issue and save customer relationship.
Many people consider an apology an admission of guilt rather than expression of empathy. However, a sincere apology is the right thing any business should do in face of a mistake. Simple “I am sorry” puts you first but not the recipient. Thus an expression “Please accept my apologies” not only sounds better, it gives the recipient the control of the process.
A personal note with sincere apologies together with detailed issue explanation and empathy statements will help you avoid negativity and continue working on finding a solution for that customer.
While communicating about the issue put yourself into your customer’s shoes. Without this it will be hard to imagine how your customer feels. Even if you apologized about the mistake, showing empathy will do no harm. These statements will help you show that you really care:
- I support your position here
- If I were in your place I would feel the same. Please accept our apology for this inconvenience
- That would make me feel frustrated, too
- I totally agree with you
- I would be asking the same questions. Please accept our apology for this and let me explain why this happened and what we can do to sort things out
Explain what went wrong
This is your chance to explain the mistake. However, do this only after you have apologized, taken responsibility and expressed empathy. Try not to sound defensive and choose the right conversation tone. It is important to understand from the very beginning if your customer is willing to hear your long explanation or a brief description will be enough.
Did you learn the lesson?
You need to take the situation under control and reassure your customer. By outlining the steps you are going to take to prevent this from happening in future, you will show that you care and want to save customer relationship.
Additionally, if the issue can be solved, do this quickly. You can also offer several alternatives and agree on a solution that is acceptable to both you and your customer.
Have you ever made a mistake and what did you do to save customer relationship? You are welcome to share your stories in the comments to this blog post.
Olga is a customer service expert and owner at Supportyourcustomer.com. She is writer and blogger on customer service and customer experience excellence.