How to Apologize to A Client In Sales

BY Jessica Helinski
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Things go wrong. Although it’s never fun, responsible sellers know how important it is to apologize to a client when something goes astray. 

Additionally, they know how to apologize in an authentic way that ensures client satisfaction. 

Apologizing is an art form that is the backbone of customer service…” writes Rachel Cagle for SalesFuel

And if handled appropriately, an apology can actually improve relationships. 

This, according to Tim Riesterer, is known as the “service recovery paradox.”

When a company is able to effectively recover from a service failure, the customer’s satisfaction can actually increase,” he explains. 

Unfortunately, reps don’t always know how to apologize in a manner that soothes client frustration. Or they don’t apologize at all. 

SalesFuel reports on study results that show 75% of customers want apologies when something goes wrong. But only 28% get them.

But proper apologizing is essential to customer satisfaction. And thankfully, it’s a soft skill you can learn and improve. 

How to Apologize to A Client

First, act quickly and take responsibility. Owning an issue, instead of denying or blaming, demonstrates maturity and professionalism. And clients also don’t want to hear a list of excuses or a defensive response. 

As Hubspot’s Alana Chinn points out, this is not a case of you against the customer.

It's you and the customer against the issue,” she writes. 

Instead, acknowledge what happened and accept responsibility. As Riesterer suggests, it doesn’t need to be a complex speech. Instead, keep it simple and short. 

And demonstrate that you not only own what happened but also take responsibility for a resolution. 

He suggests your message shows “you take full responsibility for ensuring that the problem is resolved in their best interest.”

And show empathy when you apologize to a customer. This is important because the customer needs to know that you care. 

Make sure they know you are concerned about their feelings and situation. Otherwise, everything you say will come across as disingenuous. 

Customers respond better to a sincere apology,” Riesterer explains.

For tips on how to effectively demonstrate empathy, take a look at these tips

Explain What Happened

It’s important that you understand what went wrong. And it’s important the customer knows you’re aware. Chinn recommends sellers briefly explain the situation and acknowledge the consequences for the customer. 

A great way to calm down a riled-​up customer is to show that you clearly understand their pain points.”

Identify Next Steps

Be clear about the steps you plan to take to remedy the issue. Strategize how you hope to regain their confidence and trust. 

Always offer a plan of action for moving forward,” Chinn suggests. 

When doing this, make sure to tie in their goals to the actions you’re taking. This reinforces that you understand their needs and plan to get them back on track. 

Don’t forget to mention any new processes or safeguards you’ll establish to prevent future issues. 

Follow Up

Don’t think that you can simply apologize to a customer and be done with it. It’s important that after an issue, sellers make it a priority to follow up.

Allow an appropriate amount of time to go by before checking back in. This can be done via email or a quick phone call. It gives you the opportunity to ensure the issue is fully resolved. You can also gauge the sentiment of the customer. 

Don’t Take it Personally

No business is without missteps and disappointments. It’s important that when a customer issue arises, you don’t let it get you down. Chinn advises sellers to be realistic about the situation and not let it damper confidence.

It's natural to slip up once in a while, and that's not reflective of your character or work ethic.”

Being resilient allows you to bounce back quickly from challenges and mistakes. This is not only important for your career but also customers who rely on you. 

For advice on building resilience and working through tough times, consider this advice

Embrace these suggestions. The next time you need to apologize to a client, you’re prepared to do so professionally and effectively.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko