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We all make mistakes. That means, we all need to take the time to think about what we should and would do if we made a mistake and an apology was necessary. This is particularly important for business owners because business mistakes are not just embarrassing – they have the potential to seriously screw up your company and leave you with a PR disaster to sort out.
That’s why we’ve put together some tips that may help you to apologize more effectively as a business. Check them out.
1. Take legal advice
If you’ve screwed up in a major way – maybe your product has injured someone for example – it is a good idea to seek legal advice from a business lawyer, and maybe speak to your business insurance provider about what can be done too, if you have one before you think about making an apology. After all, you don’t want to make matters worse, and by knowing exactly where you stand you can ensure that you approach any apology in the right way for you and the customer, or whoever it is you happen to be apologizing to, too.
2. Apologize no matter where the fault lies
Unless to do so would set you up for legal action, it is generally pretty sensible to apologize to the aggrieved part even if you don’t think you were in the wrong. Often, society portrays saying sorry as a sign of weakness, but it is anything but. By saying sorry, you can acknowledge the feelings of the other party and put your side across. It can give you the power back, while also showing the other person that you are willing to engage with them about their complaint. If doing so means you can avoid a bad review or legal action, it has to be worth it right?
3. Do it publicly
This may not always be the right course of action, but if the complaint has been made in public, apologizing publicly is often the smartest move because a failure to do so could look like you are trying to hide something and make it go away. You often get better PR as a business by admitting your mistakes and pledging to do better next time because, let’s face it, if you try to sweep things under the carpet, they will get out eventually anyway and that could make your company look really bad.
4. Do it quickly
If you think that an apology from your company may be due, then it is prudent to do so as quickly after the complaint as possible. If you leave it, negative feelings will fester in the injured party, and they could take things further than they were ever intending to. Quite often, people just want to feel like they’ve been heard so ignoring them is probably the worst thing you could do.
5. Explain what happened
During the course of your apology, it’s really important that you try, as best you can, to explain to the complainant why things turned out the way they did. Most people are reasonable, and they understand that no one is perfect, so if you can give them a very clear breakdown of why the problematic thing happened, chances are they will be happy enough with the explanation and won’t hold it against you or your company, especially if you also explain what steps you will be taking to ensure that it does not happen again.
6. Offer some form of compensation
If you apologize and accept that your business fell short of the mark on that occasion, it is always a good idea to sweeten the apology by offering some form of compensation. For example, if someone complains about a meal in your restaurant, you could offer them a free dinner to make up for it, or if you failed to deliver a package on time, offering a voucher for the customer’s next purchase may go down well and prevent a PR problem for you further down the line.
7. Be calm, polite, and sincere
If you apologize in a rude tone or make it obvious that you aren’t really sorry, the customer is unlikely to respond well no matter what you say or what you offer them as a way of apology. How you say things is just as important as what you actually say, so be sure to remain calm, polite, and sincere or you could live to regret it.
Apologies are never fun, but they are necessary, and if you do them right, they need not be a huge problem for your business!
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