How to apologize to customers without alienating employees

In customer service, the key to an effective apology is to convey to the customer at the outset that you’re willing to take his side and share his viewpoint.

And yet, when employees overhear a manager taking the customer’s side, don’t expect them to be thrilled.  (‘‘Does my boss blame me? Does she actually believe that idiot’s version of what happened?’’)

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This is a natural employee reaction, assuming you haven’t inoculated your staff ahead of time. Which you should be sure to do.

The onus is on the manager here to preemptively convey to employees that whoever speaks with an upset customer is going to empathize with and even amplify the customer’s side of the story, during that important conversation. Because this is the first, and most important, step toward getting back on the right foot with a customer.

Take time with your staff to explain that the customer may or may not be right in an objective sense. Regardless, whoever is speaking with the customer needs to convey complete, even disproportionate, sympathy with the customer’s viewpoint because the customer is our boss—the customer pays our paychecks.

Human nature being what it is, this explanation will bear repeating.
Often.

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Micah Solomon, author of “High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service“, is the business keynote speaker, author, and customer service consultant termed by the Financial Post ”a new guru of customer service excellence.” Solomon offers speaking and consulting on customer service issues, the customer experience, and company culture — and how they fit into today’s marketing and technology landscape. An entrepreneur and business leader, he previously coauthored the bestselling “Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit“.

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See Micah in action — including video and free resources — at http://www.micahsolomon.com. Or, click here for your own free chapter  of Micah’s new book,  High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service (AMACOM Books) and Micah’s #1 bestseller, Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization———————————————————–

“Micah Solomon conveys an up-to-the minute and deeply practical take on customer service, business success, and the twin importance of people and technology.” –Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder

© 2013 Micah Solomon.  Portions of this post may also  have appeared in Micah’s previously published work.

1 thought on “How to apologize to customers without alienating employees”

  1. I do agree with you Micah, listening and emphatizing with the customer helps to diffuse the customer’s anger. I refer to Jonathan Farrington’s SIX WAYS OF HANDLING AN IRATE CUSTOMER of 10th December ,2010.
    However, your staff must have known you do not take his efforts for granted even if you know the customer is wrong and you are trying to retain Customer Loyalty.

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