How To Apologize To Your Customers
In business, it’s impossible to get everything right all the time. There will be mistakes; no company is perfect, and errors are going to happen. Most of the errors that your business will make can be contained in-house but, on occasion, problems may be experienced by your customers as a result of these issues.
There have been numerous cases throughout the years when businesses have had to apologize to their customers. The most recent instances tend to involve data breaches, through other issues — such as faulty products or mis-sold financial packages — have also led to companies needing to issue general apologies. If your company has to one day do the same, then you’re going to have to get it right; most customers will be able to forgive you, but the apology they receive has to be top-notch.
Hopefully you will never need it, but, if you do, here’s a step-by-step guide to apologizing to your customers for a mistake your company has made:
Step One: Make contact as soon as possible
The moment that you become aware of a problem, contact the customers who may be impacted. They have a right to know. If your customers later find out that you knew of the existence of an issue but did not warn them of it, they will think poorly of your business.
Step Two: Actually apologize
Many businesses issue apologies that aren’t actually apologies, for example:
- “We were sorry to hear that a data breach had occurred…”
- “We are sorry that customers were disappointed…”
- “As a company, we are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused.”
These aren’t actual apologies; they skirt around the issue, and many customers will see them as classic examples of non-apology apologies. It’s vital that you avoid this. Instead, just be honest: “we did something wrong, and we’re sorry”.
Your customers will respect you for it.
Step Three: Provide special contact information
An email address and phone number that is dedicated to the people impacted by the event you are apologizing for is a crucial step. This helps to ensure that your customers feel that the issue is seen as important, and your business is doing all it can to ease any concerns they may have during the resolution process.
Step Four: Explain how you’re going to remedy the situation
If you can remedy the situation for your customers, explain how you’re going to do it. If there isn’t a fix — for example, in the event of a data breach — then explain what compensation you are offering.
Step Five: Detail how you will ensure it doesn’t happen again
Be specific here; if customers are going to trust your company again, they need to be able to rely on the fact that you are taking steps to ensure they are safe in future. You can explain a new manufacturing process if you’re apologizing for a defective product or, in the event of a data breach, outline how you’re going to hire dedicated professionals such as Capstone IT to manage your data and network security in future. Customers need specificity at this point, so don’t be light on the details.
If you follow the guide above, you should be able to issue an apology that is well-received and helps to preserve your relationship with your customers for the future.