The Art of an Apology: Impacting Customer Experience

Despite best intentions, well-trained employees and detailed procedures, things go wrong. The pink sweater gets shipped instead of the blue, the gadget doesn’t work, a $50 credit is misapplied. Mistakes happen, and when they do, businesses are faced with a dilemma: to send an apology letter to the customer or not.

Some companies shy away, believing that a customer apology is an admission of wrongdoing and opens the door to legal repercussions. Worse yet, a customer service apology letter sent out en masse comes across as sterile and insincere. Either way, the business stands a strong possibility of losing customers and getting blasted on social media.

In an age where mechanized messages and scripted responses seem like the norm, authentic human connection is not only appreciated but remembered, and the company reaps the reward of both customer and employee engagement.

Customer Engagement—Strengthening Bonds

The first proof points that your apology program is working will show up in customer satisfaction measures like NPS (net promoter score) or your customer satisfaction index. Then key performance indicators (retention, loyalty and repeat purchases) will improve. Beyond that is something immeasurable—a stronger emotional bond between your company and your customers. Often it’s the relationships that are tested and found trustworthy that yield the strongest advocates.

Employee Engagement—Making a Difference

The sometimes-unexpected benefit of a well-structured customer apology program comes in the form of more engaged employees.  Given that empowerment to impact the customer experience and connect with clients and buyers, employees report higher job satisfaction.

Going Beyond the Customer Apology Letter—Sending Authentic Messages

Routine, rote, run-of-the-mill apology letters to customers can create collateral damage more harmful than the actual event, so don’t err on the side of a boiler-plate response in a misguided attempt at being safe.

In my recent blog post How to Sincerely Apologize to Customers, I outlined how to craft messages that resonate with genuine emotion, and recently I had an opportunity to talk with Hallmark Business Connections Editorial Director Mark Mills about the art of the apology

Pair sincere apology messages with the Hallmark Business Connections’ easy deployment and reporting system, and you’ll find often-overlooked opportunities to impact your customer experience for long-term business results.


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