I screw up on a daily basis. In big ways and little ways, I make mistakes because hey, I’m only human. But I have a fatal flaw: I hate admitting when I’m wrong. At Roundpeg, it’s a running joke between Lorraine and me–I’m never wrong, I’m just less than correct. But it’s just that, a joke. Because when it comes to dealing with customers impacted by my mistake, I know that the first thing you have to do is accept blame by saying you’re sorry.

Saying sorry is hard.  When you say sorry, you’re saying “this is my fault. I was wrong.”  But more often than not, a wronged party just wants to hear that you were wrong, they were right. And if you can force yourself to accept that you, in whole or in part, were less than correct and you’re sorry? That’s the first step to fixing what you’ve broken.

And again, just like your mom told you, you’ve got to say it like you mean it. Even if you’re not sure you were entirely to blame (and lots of screw ups are collaborative efforts), summon up some empathy anyway. Remember a time when the situations were reversed, and how all you wanted to do was make sure someone heard you, that you mattered, that your problem would be fixed.

Oh yeah. Once you’ve apologized? Now you’ve got to fix the problem. Make things right. Maybe that means a monetary refund, or additional services being rendered for free. Sometimes, it might just mean telling the customer how you’ve made sure this will never happen again.

Again and again, we see customer service issues that could be so easily handled with “I’m sorry.” Stop being defensive. Stop trying to cover your own ass. Be good to your customer. Treat them like you’d want to be treated