Tip of the week: I think every business owner and their employees need to get comfortable with saying I’m sorry in order to have a successful, long-lasting business. As a Freelance Designer, most of my business comes from good customer service that results in good word of mouth so I have compiled a list of my most hard-learned, butt-saving phrases.
1. “I’m sorry”. This seems to be very hard for people to say (especially sincerely). Let’s practice….say it with me: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. There, see, its so so hard. You’ll be surprised how effective these two simple words can be and how easily they can resolve a problem. Admit when you have misunderstood or made a mistake then take the steps necessary to fix it.
2. “I don’t know”. There isn’t one person on the planet who knows everything. Embrace this and don’t be afraid (or too proud) to admit when you don’t know something. Simply acknowledge that you don’t have the answer and then set out to find it. This trait will separate the men from the boys (or the women from the girls…hey, I’m no sexist).
3. “I understand”. As in: ‘I understand why you would feel that way’ or ‘I understand what you are saying’ or ‘I understand your decision’. Your clients/patrons/customers are doing you a favor by using or purchasing your goods and services. DO NOT forget this! Without them, your business can’t survive and by revealing that you understand their position, you’ll gain their trust and loyalty. (theoretically… there are exceptions to every rule)
4. “I will do my best”. OK, so you might be stating the obvious here (I mean, what good entrepreneur doesn’t always do their best?!) But the fact is that by stating this you are not only reassuring your client but also making a commitment to them and to yourself.
As practice, let’s use these techniques with a restaurant patron who is pressed for time and is upset by how long it has taken to get his meal:
Patron: ‘Waiter, do I have to go back there and slaughter the cow myself?! I have an important engagement in 15 minutes and have sat here for 40 minutes waiting to be served my meal!’
Waiter: ‘I am very sorry, sir. I can see that you are upset and I understand why you feel the way you do. I would feel the same way. I don’t know what is taking so long but I will do my best to find out and will be right back with your meal.’
See how nicely that works.