I just read through The Nice Guide to Nice Replies, and this recommendation stood out for me:
9. Say sorry!
People love an honest, genuine apology. In a study by the Carey School of Business, satisfaction with service recovery doubled (from 37% to 74% satisfied) when an apology was added on top of other compensation (like a service credit).
When the occasion calls for it, apologizing is an easy way to regain goodwill with your customers.
Sounds so obvious, and yet, this is a pretty contended topic in support culture. Saying sorry is often confused with accepting responsibility, laced with fear of unintended liabilities.
The dictionary has the following definitions:
- feeling sad or distressed through sympathy with someone’s else misfortune / filled with compassion for someone,
- feeling regret or penitence.
If you are afraid that saying sorry makes you vulnerable, think again. That’s exactly why it allows you to connect with your customer! Indicating that you understand what they are going through is often the first step to de-escalating a situation.
Nobody expects you to fix everything and accept responsibility outside for what you are responsible for. That does not mean that you can’t sympathize.
You can still say “I am sorry that you are having such a hard time.” As long as you mean it.