How to Say Sorry to Your Customers (and mean it)
We’ve all been there: we’re stuck without our delivery/ the tickets for that special event haven’t arrived/ our takeaway is well past its delivery time/ the fridge is on the blink. These things always seem to happen at exactly the wrong time and through no fault of our own… So, what’s the first thing we do? We get in touch with the customer service team.
In a 2016 survey by Microsoft, 51% of UK customers surveyed said that they don’t feel as though brands act on the feedback that they give.
What’s more, a 2013 study by Liveperson showed that 37% of customers are satisfied with service recovery when they are offered something of monetary value (e.g., a refund or credit); but when the business adds an apology on top of the compensation, satisfaction doubles to 74%.
So, how can you let your customers know that you’ve taken their experience and feedback seriously?
By taking responsibility and saying ‘sorry’ (and meaning it)…
1. Acknowledge that something has gone wrong
Being open and honest by acknowledging that something has gone wrong straight away, instead of acting as though it wasn’t ‘too much of a problem’, or giving excuses, will help build back your customer’s faith in the brand.
Nobody wants to hear an elaborate cover story, or even worse, find it impossible to speak to someone about their issue in the first place. Be there for your customer and let them know that you’re aware of something not being right; let them know that you understand how this has effected them.
As you probably guessed, this is the bit where you use the magic words… (“I’m sorry”).
2. Explain why it happened
…and explain it well- without excuses.
We’ve all tried them: The dog ate my homework, my alarm didn’t go off, your birthday card must have got lost in the post…
Guess what? Your customer has used all of these too, and they know an excuse when they hear one.
Taking responsibility for the fault and explaining exactly why it happened in the first place is a hugely important part of the process (‘explaining’ being the key word- not to be confused with justifying…). There’s no point in apologising if you’re just going to do it again!
3. Let them know why it won’t be happening again
Your customer needs reassurance; they need to feel confident in your brand again, or they won’t be your customer for much longer.
By explaining the cause of the issue, you should to be able to explain the steps that have been taken in response, to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
After you’ve explained, make sure that your customer fully understands why it happened and why it won’t be happening again. Give your customer the chance to ask any questions and let them know that they can always get back in touch if they have any more.
As a little something extra, there’s never any harm in throwing in a discount or free gift/service by way of apology- but don’t forget, being empathetic and saying sorry means so much more to your customer (37% more, apparently!).
If you need help improving your customers’ experience, simply get in touch.
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