Why are those words so hard to say? We’re currently reading a great book, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, by Kerry Patterson and several other authors. It’s a book we would recommend to almost anyone because it will help you in business, at home, or in any relationship. We will probably comment on it more in another blog, but today we wanted to highlight one of the authors’ recommendations. They suggest that when you realize you’ve made a mistake, it’s important to start with an “apology,” which they define as a statement that sincerely expresses your sorrow for your role in causing difficulty for others. Many of us have received what we called “qualified apologies,” and maybe we’ve even delivered a few — something along the lines of, “I am sorry you felt that way about me embarrassing you in front of your friends.”
The other day we had an episode at our auto dealership. We’ve done business with them for a long time, and we’ve always received great service and had positive experiences. We were leasing a new vehicle, and we noticed a slight problem in the transaction. When we brought the problem to their attention, the finance manager took total responsibility and offered an unqualified apology for his oversight. He also solved the problem immediately.
Do you and your team take total responsibility for customer/client problems, or do you place blame elsewhere?
In the story above, the dealership made a mistake — but the way they handled it has made us even bigger fans of their establishment. We all make mistakes; it’s how we handle them that separate the great from the average.