Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Apologies ranked

I had an opportunity to issue an apology recently, and as I got ready to make the phone call I remembered seeing a ranking of apologies from 1-10 in Seth Godin's blog (via Yehuda Berlinger)

I jumped straight ahead to the strategy ranked 9th:
"We're sorry that we caused this problem." or "We're sorry that we have let this happen." (9): This is a full apology, and is what the customer needs to hear. Frankly, it doesn't matter that it was really the post office's fault, and not yours; the customer doesn't care. Most people hearing this cannot help but respond with some sort of graciousness, such as "Well, all right then, these things happen. What are you going to do to fix it?" This is the target level that you want to hit for your customer service.
I have to admit that before making the call I was baking-up some excuses to try to explain our mistake away. I was so glad that I remembered seeing this list, and was feeling stupid for not having bookmarked it previously, but my Google Co-op search came through for me once again and I found it rather quickly.

This apology worked wonderfully. I felt better, the person I was apologizing to felt better, it was a good thing all the way around. In fact, it worked so well that I decided to capture the advice in my little black notebook right beneath the strategies for dealing with control freaks.

I hope you never need these strategies, but if you do, know that these have been tested in real-world situations and come highly recommended.


Yehuda Berlinger said...

Glad to be of service, but I can do you one better:

I sometimes inspire a person to whom I'm apologizing to say "No, no, that wasn't your fault. There was nothing you could have done about it."


Kevin Gamble said...

Thank you so much for commenting Yehuda. That means a lot to me.

There was NO WAY in this one that I could have gotten to "No, no..." But I will keep that front and center as the gold standard and will shoot for that response the next time.