When Things go Sour
Business relationships like every other type of association can go sour. This is due to human flaws that often come to play in such relationships. A cargo might have been delayed, a service might not have been met up to the required expectation or goods might have been delivered in a bad state. Whatever the situation may have been the relationship between you and your client should be given priority. Therefore, in ugly situations like this, the first goal is to win your client over and give him reasons to want to have dealings with your firm in the future.
The Place for an Apology
An apology often strengthens relationships right after it has restored it. Although it may not be enough, tendering an apology for disappointing a client shows that you value the relationship that your company has with this client. It can help calm a possibly heated situation. Your company should also be quick to offer appropriate compensation to the disappointed client.
Tendering an Apology via Email
In tendering an apology via email to your clients, here are some of the things to put into consideration.
Correlate Your Words with Action
Let your action correlates with the words of your apology. There is absolutely no reason to mend a sour business relationship if positive actions are not employed to back it up. That is, if you are genuinely sorry for your errors, it simply means that the company will ensure appropriate compensation for whatever damage the customer had incurred as a result of your mistake. For instance: “As our way of showing how sorry we are, we will like to offer a 2% discount on our next service to you. We are aware this cannot make up for the inconvenience you have experienced. We regret putting you and your firm through this ordeal and humbly offer our apologies once again”.
Own up. Take responsibility for what has happened and the state of the relationship between you and the customer. This goes a long way to making your client look forward to a change in the relationship. It shows the client that you have learned from your error. And that you will not likely make the same mistake in the future. Therefore, this increases the possibility of this relationship being restored and strengthened.
Provide an Explanation
Your clients will naturally want to know what went wrong. However, in some situations, it is not ideal to explain expressly what happened without revealing your business weaknesses or other related matters that are sensitive. Acknowledge that something went wrong with the business without revealing too much. Assure your client everything has been fixed, and ensure that indeed everything has been fixed.
Nothing is Beyond Your Control
Never infer or state that any circumstance was beyond your control. It puts you in a bad light as ineffective. Never pass blame on government policies, the weather or other factors that actually obviously contributed to the problem. Take full responsibility.
Apologize, but Apologize Sensibly
Apologize for the damages done due to the action or inaction of your company. Do not use extreme adjectives to describe your action or inaction. For example, do not say: “We apologize for our sheer negligence”. This will further create an undesirable picture in your client’s mind. Never paint your company as irresponsible while apologizing. It would undoubtedly create a deeper sore than the one you are trying to deal with.
Focus on the Situation and Client
In your email, describe the situation and what your client might have felt on account of what had happened. For example, you may say: “We know that this incidence has caused you some worries” or “We understand your displeasure and anger over the situation”. Your aim is to isolate the situation, address it as the cause of the client’s displeasure, and not your company. You have already taken responsibility for the error, but focusing on the situation and how your client feels about it shows that it is not in the culture of your company to commit such errors. You are simply saying that the situation was an unfortunate rare incidence that has caused unnecessary pain to your customer.
Express Your Desire to Maintain the Relationship
You may say: “We truly regret any inconvenience we have caused you and your company. We will like to assure you that this situation will not recur. We value our business relationship with you and would not want to jeopardize it in any way”. You have shown the client that you are not only sorry but also value the relationship you have with him.
Sample Email: Mending a Business Relationship by Apologizing via Email
Hello Mr Craig,
We wish to apologize for our delay in providing the printing services to your company recently ordered for. This was due to challenging circumstances related to the job production that we were trying to fix. Although we were finally able to fix it, the entire challenge led to your job being delivered late. We truly regret any inconvenience we have caused you and your company during this period as you waited patiently.
We will like to assure you that situations like this will not recur. We value our business relationship with you and would not want to jeopardize this relationship in any way. You are very important to us, and meeting your printing and publishing needs remains our topmost priority.
We will like to offer a 5% discount on our next service to you as a way of showing how sorry we are for what happened. We are aware that this gesture cannot make up for the inconvenience you have experienced. We regret this situation and humbly offer our apology once again.
Thanks for your understanding.
General Manager, BenMark Publishing Limited
0800 250 3000
Edited by Kelechi Duru