Saying “sorry” is not admitting defeat. It’s admitting you’re human. Customers like that.
Beloved companies regularly practice this important peace process. It makes them grow.
Remember when you were a kid and your brother or sister punched you or pinched you? Sure, he or she apologized. But it didn’t mean much because a) your parent was usually prompting the words, and b) you’d been apologized to many times before, just to be punched again another day.
This is what we put our customers through when we deliver a hollow apology and then don’t fix the problem causing the issue. You’ll likely get credit when you apologize once for a problem. But when it repeats, another letter, email, or discount coupon just won’t cut it. Your currency with customers and their trust in you will dwindle. Just like it did with your little brother. You likely flinched and pulled away when your brother got near you. Customers will do more than flinch if you don’t decide to say “sorry” well. They’ll just plain leave you.
How you apologize is your humanity litmus test. Let’s face it, at some point your business will suffer a failure that disappoints customers. How your company reacts, explains, removes the pain, and takes accountability for actions signals how you think about customers, and the collective heart of your organization. Grace and wisdom guide decisions of beloved companies toward accept- ing responsibility and resolving the situation when the chips are down—not accusations and skirting accountability. Repairing the emotional connections well is a hallmark of companies we love. It makes us love them even more.
It has been proven that a genuine apology strengthens the emotional connection that a customer has with a company. Being human and prone to making mistakes, we’re in luck. We have the opportunity regularly to make amends.
-> Download “Decide to Say Sorry – The Peace Process for Growing Your Business“ by Jeanne Bliss. (9 page pdf)
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