Words to avoid when apologizing to customers

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There will come a time in the dealings of every business when offering an apology will be the best way forward.

Whether you’re operating ebooks online stores, selling furniture, cosmetics, or electronics, something is going to go sideways at some point. When it does, you’re going to need to express regret to keep your business running and that expression is going to have to have radiate sincerity.

Being aware of these words to avoid when you apologize will go a long way toward helping you ensure your apologies are effective.

  1. Seems

“It seems you have been hurt by what happened here.”

Congratulations, you just told them you don’t believe they were actually hurt. Further, you’re only apologizing to shut them up. What’s more, you’re not taking responsibility for the situation; you’re shifting the fault onto them instead.

Victim blaming, in any form, won’t get you very far.

  1. But

Everything said before the word “but” is meaningless. Invoking that word will cancel out everything preceding it.

“I’m so sorry your ebook won’t open, but…”

  1. Try

“I promise you, I’m going to try to make sure…”

Why not just say you know your effort is going to fail because there’s nothing really behind it? When you employ the word “try”, you’re leaving open the possibility your remedy is likely to be ineffective.

People want to know you know what to do to put the situation correct.

“We are going to make every effort to resolve this situation to your satisfaction.” sounds a lot better than “We will try…”

  1. Misunderstanding

When you say, “I’m so sorry about this misunderstanding…” people hear you saying you don’t really accept responsibility for the situation and if they “understood”, they’d see you’ve done nothing wrong.

Meanwhile, regardless of what you might think, the customer is convinced they’re not operating under a misunderstanding. In their eyes, if you had done what you were supposed to do, (or hadn’t done what you weren’t supposed to do) there would be no situation.

  1. You Feel

“I’m so sorry you feel this way…”

This phrase basically translates to mean their concern has no basis in reality; it’s simply a result of their feelings. Which, in turn translates into you not taking responsibility for the situation.

  1. If

“I’m sorry if…”

To be effective, an apology must be both sincere and unconditional. You must take responsibility for the offense and you have to put forth a remedy to assure the offended party they won’t suffer again in this way.

When you invoke the word “if”, you’re implying the problem wasn’t your fault. You’re saying the problem isn’t a result of your action or inaction, but rather how the person reacted to your action or inaction.

Saying “I’m Sorry” Isn’t Easy

Apologizing can be one of the most difficult things a human being can do. After all, whenever we’re confronted with information calling our self-image into question, our first impulse is to defend. Whenever we find ourselves in situations warranting an apology, our instinct is to try to diminish our responsibility in some way. It takes a lot of maturity to set your feelings asidefor the good of a relationship.

 

Each of these words to avoid when you apologize serves to lessen your accountability for the situation. While using these terms might make you feel less guilty about the problem, they also imply you don’t really mean what you’re saying.