Sometimes our companies make mistakes. In this video, learn how and when to apologize to your customers, and the different types of apologies for different situations.
- There is an old out of date rule floating around in the contact center world that says never apologize to a customer. This rule is wrong. Not only is it okay to apologize, but in many cases you owe it to the customer. The important thing is to know when to apologize, and how to do it right. Let's say a customer sends your company this email about a stay at your hotel, and missing rewards points. It looks like a glitch in the system caused the problem, or maybe it was human error.
Does this situation call for an apology? How do you know? The face-to-face standard is a good method to use when deciding if an apology is necessary. Just ask yourself, if I were sitting across the table from this customer, and I could see him face-to-face, would I apologize? If the answer is, "Yes, I would," then you should apologize in the email. But remember, apologies need to be sincere, so don't just wantonly apologize for every tiny hiccup or minor bad feeling a customer reports.
If you do that, you'll cheapen your apology. In fact, too many apologies can actually increase the volume of emails to your contact center because customers may think you're pushovers for refunds or compensation. Okay, how about some practice? Let's play a quick round of the customer service email game, Am I Sorry? In this game I'll give you a customer situation, and you choose whether to apologize. Ready? Here we go. You work for the county government's building permit department.
A customer emails to complain that she's been waiting six months to receive a home improvement permit. The county had promised her that they would process her permit request in no more than three months. So, should you apologize? Yes, if your department didn't fulfill their promise, you should apologize. Here's another one. Your company sells hand-crafted wooden toys. A customer who loves your toys emails you to say he's angry that you don't sell children's furniture.
Should you apologize? No, don't apologize. Your company has done nothing wrong. It's simply that you're a toy company that doesn't make furniture. Okay, one more. A customer called your company to get help with a product update. Now he's sent an email to complain that the technical person he spoke to was rude and impatient. Should you apologize? Yes, apologize, but don't fall all over yourself. There's a chance that the phone agent wasn't rude or that the customer is exaggerating.
So remember, it's okay to apologize when your company did something wrong, or when your company caused some bad feelings. Use the face-to-face standard, be thoughtful and sincere, and you'll go a long way toward making the customer happy.
- Reading emails carefully
- Anticipating follow-up questions
- Answering all of the customer's questions
- Handling difficult questions
- Explaining your process to the customer
- Paraphrasing the customer's situation
- Acknowledging the customer's feelings
- Apologizing when appropriate
- Avoiding clichéd language
- Demonstrating empathy and sincerity in your writing
- Building rapport