Everyone makes mistakes. And, yes, an apology should be the first thing your client hears from you after such an occurrence. However, if you keep apologizing after that point, it will prolong the issue and potentially make it seem worse to the client than it ever really was. According to Dan Tyre and his article, “Salespeople, Are You Apologizing Too Much?” here are a few tips to mastering the art of the graceful apology.
Tyre recommends that, when a mistake is made, you reach out to your clients twice within a day of the incident, regardless of whether the mistake was big or small. First, contact them to make them aware of the mistake, if you happened to catch it before them. Regardless of who noticed the mistake first, this initial contact should hold your apology and a laid-out plan of how you intend to fix it, including how much time you feel it will take.
The following point of contact should be a follow-up to ensure that the mistake has been rectified, or, if the solution is taking longer than anticipated, to provide an update on your progress. If talking over the phone is a method of contact your client prefers, both occasions of outreach should be done via phone call so that you can talk through any concerns your client may have and so that you can convey sincerity in your apology.
Notice that an apology is only deemed necessary once. Unless your client is actively livid and seems to be demanding additional apologies, don’t continue to apologize after you have already done so. Apologizing again and again will only bring attention to the fact that a problem occurred again and again. It is not constructive to the solution, so spend your energy on the solution to the problem rather than forcing yourself and your client to focus on the unsolved problem.
Remember, Tyre says, “When you make a mistake, fix it, move on, and close the deal.”