I’m Sorry, I Don’t Remember How to Say I’m Sorry

Joel Spolsky shares Seven Steps to Remarkable Customer Service that shares lessons his software company has learned (in come cases, the hard way).  Many make sense for professional service providers.  My favorite, though, is this one

Memorize Awkward Phrases.  

It’s easy to get caught up in the emotional heat of the moment when someone is complaining.

The solution is to memorize some key phrases, and practice saying them, so that when you need to say them, you can forget your testosterone and make a customer happy.

“I’m sorry, it’s my fault.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t accept your money. The meal’s on me.”

“That’s terrible, please tell me what happened so I can make sure it never happens again.”

It’s completely natural to have trouble saying “It’s my fault.” That’s human. But those three words are going to make your angry customers much happier. So you’re going to have to say them. And you’re going to have to sound like you mean it.

So start practicing.

Say “It’s my fault” a hundred times one morning in the shower, until it starts to sound like syllabic nonsense. Then you’ll be able to say it on demand.

One more point. You may think that admitting fault is a strict no-no that can get you sued. This is nonsense. The way to avoid getting sued is not to have people who are mad at you. The best way to do this is to admit fault and fix the damn problem.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole post.  It is really great stuff.

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