Salespeople Must Master the Apology

June 28, 2013  |  Posted by in Communication Skills
 

Mistakes happen. For customer service employees, accidents often have a direct effect on a client, and it can be overwhelming to face the resulting anger or disappointment. However, when something goes wrong, it's more important than ever for staff members' talent to shine through. With the right customer service training, workers can learn how to confidently and effectively make things right.

Responsive and responsible
The Harvard Business Review recently pointed out that the art of giving genuine apologies that are well-received is an essential skill in many varied contexts. The source advised that when making amends with people one doesn't know very well, offering compensation should be part of the strategy. Especially when dealing with newer customers, the expectation may be that when snafus occur, a discount or refund will be presented. Employees should know all relevant policies so that when a mistake occurs, they'll be able to provide the client a satisfactory solution as quickly as possible.

However, the source noted that monetary compensation isn't always required. In some situations, all the upset person needs is an expression of emotional connection and support. In a customer service context, workers may want to show that they empathize with the disappointed individual ("I'm sorry that this happened") and then present a plan to prevent future missteps ("Here is what we will do to ensure this doesn't happen again").

In an article for Inc. Magazine, Chris Mittelstaedt, the founder and CEO of The FruitGuys, said it is critical that whoever is addressing a mistake approaches the situation with honesty and accountability. He stated that in his experience, successful problem resolution includes providing the client with a summary of what happened and an explanation of what went wrong. Similar to the Harvard Business Review, he advocated that managers should also step in to present the business' action plan. However, Mittelstaedt went a step further to emphasize that the outline is detailed: Customers should know what will be done immediately, in the near future and in the long term.

Developing strong communication skills is of paramount importance for working effectively with customers to ensure their satisfaction. Mistakes will occur at times, but it is the way these problems are solved that will actually stand out in a client's mind. Customer service training can help people at every level of the organization develop effective strategies for giving meaningful apologies. When staff handles complaints or unfortunate incidents gracefully, clients will feel confident in their decision to remain with the business.

 
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