Don’t be sorry

It is rather common to see support people apologizing to customers. Some are in the habit of doing it almost every single time. Maybe it’s part of their standard response template.

Camping Elia Halkidiki
Camping Elia

You better avoid apologizing every single time. There is a danger your customers develop resistance. The more times you say “I am sorry for your troubles”, the more it becomes an unconscious addition to your response. The customers can sense that. They will think you are not sincere. When it’s time to really be sorry, they will not believe you.

Is it ever possible to not be sorry when a customer has troubles though? Well, yes. It depends. You can spend a few seconds assessing their situation. Is the problem they are reporting blocking? Is the trouble they had severe? What is the cost for them? Not every problem is similar.

For example, a customer reports a UI misalignment. You do not detect frustration in their initial email. You don’t have to be sorry. This is a reason to say thanks! It is an opportunity to turn this into a positive and elevate your customer’s feelings. You acknowledge the trouble they went through to report a glitch so that you can improve your product.

A customer reports a bug that has prevented them from using your service for the past 4 hours. They had a deadline to meet with their customers, and they depended on your service. They are very irritated about the whole situation, and you can clearly see that in their email. Now, that’s a reason to be sorry.

It’s not time to bring out that canned response though. Transferring your genuine feelings to paper or the screen of your computer, should always start with a blank slate. What you write needs to be based on the unique situation at that particular moment.

You can’t only just say you are sorry. Just saying “I am so sorry for the troubles!” will not cut it. You need to also show your customer how much you understand how the problem has influenced them.

That’s the only way for them to lower their defenses and focus on moving forward with a solution.

Do you have examples of great responses where you had to apologize? We’d love to see them in the comments bellow!

HeavyMelon is building Supportress. A simple, fast and reliable customer support tool at an unbeatable price. It helps you stay calm and productive. Subscribe to this blog, subscribe to our monthly HeavyMelon Newsletter, or ask us to add you to the private beta.

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Petros Amiridis View All →

Petros is a software writer since 1998, when he graduated from CITY College with a degree in Computer Science. He took a small break to work at GitHub Support for 9 years as a support engineer and a people manager. He quit GitHub to found HeavyMelon, a calm fully remote company. You can check what he is doing and where you can find him online now.

2 Comments Leave a comment

    • Thanks Georgia! I like using this little technique from journalism where you make the title a bit more controversial to increase interest. I am not using it with every article though.

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