Through my years of working to make great customer experiences, one of the most common things you will need to do is apologize for a mistake, poor experience or just because the person is having a bad day.
I have found that apologies are very simple to do, however, not many people do them right.
The first step to a good apology, is to say “I am very sorry.”. Now the most important part about this phrase is not the word ‘sorry’, not the word ‘am’, not the word ‘very’ and definitely not the word ‘I’. The most important part of this is the period(‘.’) at the end of the sentence.
People ruin their apologies by saying “I am very sorry for this inconvenience”, “I am very sorry for this delay”, “I am very sorry that you did not understand this” and so on. When you add something like this on the end, you take blame away from you and put it on either the customer or an unknown disaster creating monster that is out to get the customer.
Accept that the customer is upset and just wants to be heard and to their knowledge this is not their fault.
The next thing I find people do backwards is instead of fixing the problem, they explain why the problem occurred. Take this chance to be a hero to the customer, as yo have already started your email out correctly by apologizing.
Explain what you have done to fix their problem. The key to this is that when reading emails, people tend to skim through emails, so if they are going to take away 1 or 2 things from the email, it should be that, A) you are sorry and B) you have fixed.
Now if you want, you can explain why this problem happened to this customer. However, if the customer is at fault, find a way to explain how to do it properly next time without belittling them. Place the blame on you and find and fix the reason why they were not aware of the correct way to do it. Let them know that you will make this more clear for future orders.
Finally, ask if this has solved their problem and if there is anything else you can help them with.
To recap, if you follow the 4 simple steps of:
1) Say you are sorry. PERIOD.
2) Fix the problem or explain exactly how to fix the problem
3) Educate on why this happened
4) Ensure you have answered their questions and let them know you are willing to help with any other issues they may be having.
For some other great resources on how to apologize check out:
If you have any other ideas about how to apologize or have a good apology rant or praise, let me know in the comments