The Art of Saying Sorry – How to Apologize in Customer Service

If you work in customer support, service, or success, your main goal is to ensure that your customers have a positive experience with your company. However, there may be times when things don’t go as planned, and mistakes occur. In these situations, it’s essential to take responsibility and apologize for any errors in order to rectify the situation and improve the customer’s experience.


To offer a good apology for customer service, the initial phase is to have a clear understanding of the reason for the apology. The recipient of an apology desires to feel that their concerns are being recognized as a priority. Saying something like “I’m sorry you’re upset” does not indicate that the problem has been understood. It is crucial to empathize with the customer’s perspective and comprehend how the issue has impacted them, such as in terms of wasted time, financial loss, or loss of trust in the product. Being specific about the problem shows that the customer’s concerns are being taken seriously and that their grievances have been fully understood.

By taking into account the broader context surrounding the customer’s anger, you can offer a more sincere and comprehensive apology. Although you may not necessarily include all of your reasoning in the follow-up email, recognizing the root cause of your customer’s frustration is the first step in providing excellent customer service and offering a meaningful apology.

Say Sorry

After comprehending how your actions have impacted the customer, it’s crucial to express the most significant word: Sorry. It’s important to actually use the word and not simply imply it.

When apologizing, it’s essential to make it personal. The phrase “We apologize for the inconvenience” is one of the most clichéd phrases used in customer service and should be avoided while creating your own apology. The key is to simply say “I’m sorry” and then explain the reason for the apology. There’s no secret to it.

Offer an Explanation

Certain customers are genuinely interested in knowing what caused the problem initially. This helps to alleviate their concerns about the issue reoccurring in the future.

However, it’s important to avoid making excuses and instead take ownership of the mistake. For example, if a customer is upset about a delay in response time, simply stating “we were really busy” isn’t a sufficient explanation. A more comprehensive explanation would be “we didn’t accurately predict our staffing needs.” By admitting to mistakes and taking responsibility, you demonstrate accountability and build trust with your customer.

Fix the Problem

A sincere apology is only effective if the underlying issue is resolved. Overusing emotional phrases, such as “I’m sorry,” can diminish their impact, particularly in the context of customer service.

If the problem persists, even the best customer service apology will not be effective. Frequent outages or recurring issues will only serve to frustrate customers.

After expressing empathy, apologizing, and explaining what went wrong, it’s important to outline specific steps that will be taken to resolve the issue. If you need to follow up later, provide customers with a timeline for when a more complete resolution will be available, and when they can expect to hear from you.

If you make any commitments or promises about following up or resolving the issue, it’s essential to follow through on them. Don’t make a promise to the customer if you’re not sure whether you can fix the problem. Ultimately, it’s the successful resolution of the problem that makes an apology genuine and effective.

Offer compensation (maybe)

In some cases, customers may be entitled to a refund or service credit. For example, if they were unable to use your service for an extended period, or if your terms of service include service level agreements (SLAs) or guarantees. In such cases, it’s advisable to proactively offer a credit as a gesture of appreciation for their patience. This proactive approach can further enhance the goodwill between you and your customer.

The language you use when communicating with customers can have a lasting impact on your relationship with them. Therefore, we have compiled a list of phrases to use and avoid in your customer support career.

Learn from your mistakes

If you find yourself having to apologize to customers for negative experiences on a frequent basis, there may be a more significant issue at play. Your customer support team should not be relied upon to simply shield customers from ongoing problems.

To identify and address any recurring issues, it’s important to keep track of customers who require apologies and the reasons for them. Summary, review these records and look for any patterns or trends that may require further action or attention from the company as a whole.

Wrap it up

It’s important to end the conversation with a sincere apology. A statement like “Please accept my sincere apologies for what happened and the fact that it wasn’t up to our usual standard. If there’s anything else I can do to help address your concerns, please don’t hesitate to let me know,” can be effective.

By keeping the conversation open, you show that you are willing to address any further concerns that the customer may have. This can help to build trust and goodwill, and may ultimately lead to a more positive outcome for everyone involved.

Author: Orange


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