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“I’m Sorry” & Customer Service

Guest Post By: Amanda Johns Vaden

While reading  new book that I got turned on to called “#GIRLBOSS” by Sophia Amoruso, one of the things she talks about is how important it is to apologize to your customers when things go wrong. Here’s what I believe when it comes to saying, “I’m sorry,” in regards to customer service.

I believe that you should always take responsibility when things don’t go right in your company. Many times it’s going to be your fault, and many times it’s not. Regardless, they’re still your customers.

We’ve all heard that old adage saying, “The customer is always right.” Let’s just be honest, that’s not true. The customer is not always right. But regardless, they are still your customers.

And here’s what I’ve noticed as a customer and a consumer of many types of things: I don’t hear “I am so sorry” or “Let us fix that for you”. In fact, most times, the person on the other line or the person standing behind the counter is trying to inform me why it was my fault, why this didn’t go right, or trying to give me some logical explanation as to why this happened.

Here’s what I know about apologizing. The more you try to defend yourself or the more you try to reason, the more defensive the other person’s going to get. Although I don’t necessarily believe that you should be sorry for everything that your customers are unhappy about, here’s what I know:

The quicker that you respond with a genuine empathetic, “I’m sorry this happened to you,” you’re not saying, “I am sorry we did this. I’m sorry that we failed you.” You are saying, “I am sorry that you feel this way. I am sorry that this was your experience.”

If you can show genuine empathy quickly, all of the negative attitudes tend to diminish. It’s when we don’t apologize. It’s when we don’t take responsibility. It’s when we don’t make an effort to show our customers that we appreciate them as customers that things turn ugly.

And let’s just be honest. In the world of social media and online feedback, no one can afford a constant barrage of unhappy customers because if you keep your customers unhappy long enough, you’re just not going to have any customers.

 

Amanda Johns Vaden is a founding partner, executive coach and senior consultant at Southwestern Consulting. She has worked with over 400 sales offices nationwide. Amanda is the author of the upcoming books Unspoken: Redefining Expectations Between Men and Women in the World of Work and 4-Dimensional Follow up: Increasing Client Retention and Customer Loyalty Through Follow-Up