Apologize to disappointed customers

1. Start your apology with an expression of regret.

2. Explain what went wrong and why it happened.

3. Acknowledge your responsibility to your customers even if you’re not entirely at fault.

For example, a batch of Tylenol pills, suspected of being laced with cyanide, killed seven people in Chicago in 1982. Neither Tylenol nor the manufacturer, Johnson and Johnson, was believed to have made the mistake, but Johnson and Johnson sent a global, heartfelt apology and recalled 31 million bottles, offering free replacements to the value of $100 million, in return.

4. Continue your apology with a declaration of repentance, and what you’ve done or will do to prevent it from happening again.

Be sincere in your apology and avoid using words like if or but, that can ruin your entire apology. For example, Airbnb put this into practice when they came under fire for reports of racial profiling and discrimination on their site.

5. Include incentives in your apology to build good will.

For example, Brendan Hufford’s customers waited six months for their order instead of three months. To apologize for the delay, Brendan sent every person who ordered, whether they asked for a refund or not, a box containing: A personal letter, t-shirts, instructional DVDs, the current issue of the most popular jujitsu magazine, and memberships to the world’s most popular jujitsu online training website.

6. Respond to customer complaints in a timely fashion.

Use a tool like Mention to identify when and where people are talking about you online, increasing your ability to respond rapidly.