How To Give a Customer Service Apology

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customer service apology

How To Give a Customer Service Apology

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Apologies are often delivered with several different approaches. Apologizing to anyone, especially a valued customer will likely make a difference. Have you thought about the best ways to give a customer service apology?

First, it may be important to consider the wrong way. We should never say things like:

I’m sorry, but you should have arrived sooner.

I’m sorry, but the 3-year warranty expired last week.

I’m sorry, but we have no idea what the batch of product will be like when we order it.

Do you see a theme here? It starts out with, “I’m sorry, but…” Certainly, this is not the way to give any apology. Unfortunately, this is often how they are delivered.

Every customer offering a compliant, presenting a problem, or giving any type of feedback wants to be heard. Above all else, what happens next in the relationship will be conditioned on whether they feel heard. The feeling of being heard is respectful and everyone wants respect.

Customer Service Apology

Delivering an apology has a lot to do with words, but it also has to do with actions and behaviors. Here are three things to consider when delivering a customer service apology:

  • Listen. You have to set aside your own emotions. If you’re feeling angry, in disagreement, or even anxious, your listening skills will be strained. Give undivided attention.
  • Focus. Try to focus on what the customer may be experiencing, be in their shoes. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with how they are presenting it, but you must be considering how to empathize with the situation.
  • Deliver. What you say and how you say it will make a difference. We’re all human and demonstrating compassion is typically helpful. Consider, “we’re sorry,” but certainly don’t deliver the “We’re sorry, but.” Admit mistakes, demonstrate compassion, and show empathy.

Made In Moments

The customer experience is often made in moments. It is made the moment you do something that they will remember. Hopefully it is a delightful surprise, something extra, something more than what they expected. Of course, if there has been a breakdown in service their surprise is likely unwanted.

Research suggests that customers are actually more loyal when they have had an issue or problem and it was resolved to their satisfaction.

When there is a breakdown, it may be the last moment you’ll get. Make the most of it. Make the apology, accept responsibility, and learn from it.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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Gil Longwell

September 21, 2017at 7:03 am

“I understand your concern…” is an affirmative acknowledgment that shows a connection to the caller and the issue. It shows you are listening and engaged. It should be the first words you speak after you hear the caller’s initial complaint. After that, you can guide the conversation to satisfy corporate or organizational goals.

    Dennis Gilbert

    September 21, 2017at 7:38 am

    Great suggestion! Each situation may be unique and sounding natural and not rehearsed or scripted is important. Everyone gets better with practice. I really like your last sentence too!

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