No matter how hard you try to please your customers, there will inevitably come a time when you can't deliver 100 percent satisfaction. In this era plagued by supply chain and hiring issues, some businesses are finding this to be true much more often than they'd like. Sometimes, you need to apologize to your customers. Here are six tips to keep in mind when that happens.

1. Be Sincere

When you apologize to customers, whether you're speaking to a specific customer or your entire customer base, be sincere. People can tell when they are being patronized or not being taken seriously. Sincerity comes through when it's legitimate, and customers appreciate and respond to that. Being sincere might just help you keep a customer who would otherwise be lost.

2. Be Prompt

Customers appreciate a prompt response almost as much as a sincere one. Responding quickly illustrates that you take the matter seriously and are genuinely concerned about the customer's satisfaction. A late response suggests that their satisfaction isn't a priority.

3. Take Responsibility

Take responsibility for the mistake that was made, regardless of whether you truly believe you were at fault or not. In the customer's eyes, you were. You're not going to get very far with an apology that tries to pass the blame or suggests that you don't really feel that your business made a mistake at all.

4. Offer a Public Apology

Not every apology needs to be in the public eye.  Apologizing for a shipping delay on one customer's order can be resolved on a one-on-one basis. A bigger issue of shipping delays to numerous customers, however, may require a public apology. Acknowledge the issue on social media channels or in public statements and press releases to let the general public know that you're taking the issue at hand seriously and doing what you can to fix it.

5. Rectify the Situation

Fixing the issue is just as important, if not more so, than the apology itself, and it can help to let customers know what you are doing to rectify the situation.

Small Business Trends has a great example of an apology to a customer for an employee who treated them rudely.1 It says:

"I want to apologize for the rude behavior of one of the employees at our store yesterday. Their behavior was inexcusable, and I completely understand how upsetting it is when someone who should be serving you responds in such a disrespectful way."

"We have identified the employees responsible for your negative experience and they have been disciplined. We’ve also communicated to them that they will lose their jobs if this type of behavior ever happens again. We truly value having you as a customer and hope you will accept our sincere apology. Please let me know if you have any other concerns or questions, and I’ll be happy to address them personally."

6. Give Customers a Reason to Do Business With You Again

Beyond apologizing and rectifying the situation, it can also help to offer customers an incentive to come back. Give them a reason to do business with you again beyond promising to do better. Give them something they can actually use.

To return to another apology example, points to a customer service message from Amazon, which says:

"I'm sorry to know about the delayed delivery of your recent order. Please accept my sincere apologies on this occasion. I understand that as a member of Amazon Prime, you expect day delivery on the order you placed while being a part of the membership."

"I can certainly understand the disappointment this delay might have caused you. In order to keep our promise, I've extended your Amazon Prime  membership by one month. The membership will now renew on end of your Prime membership. I realize this Prime extension can't fully make up for the delay. I hope you'll accept it as a goodwill gesture from our side…"2

Here,  the customer doesn't simply need to blindly trust the company to get it right next time. They are getting a valuable incentive to continue to do business. This is an example of how a business of any size can stay in a customer's good graces. The incentive could be as simple as a discount on the next purchase.

Apologies are rarely comfortable, but they are necessary, and ultimately a positive for both the business and the customer. Be sincere and do your best to make things right.




The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC