Sorry seems to be the hardest word

I’m really sorry.

I’m sorry I upset you.

We’re sorry that happened.

Saying sorry isn’t difficult, so why do brands and businesses feel that once they get online they don’t need to apologise for upsetting people? Especially their customers?

If you upset a customer in your shop, your café, your restaurant or your business, you would apologise. Yet the second a retailer takes to social media this magic little word seems to disappear.

I once worked with a large multinational company who managed to upset thousands of customers at once with one single social media post.

Their response? To explain why they felt it was fair they upset all these customers.

The customers’ response: “upset and anger.”

My response? To apologise. To edit the company’s long unapologetic response to start with “we’re really sorry we’ve upset you” before explaining what the end goal was.

The customers’ new response: “thank you for explaining but…”

The company’s response: “we do not say sorry online, it makes us look unprofessional.”

To which I started to question: “but what would you say to an upset customer who came into your store?” “Well we would apologise of course.”

Then why won’t you do it online?

The key thing to remember when speaking to your customers on social media is that social media is the same as offline.

We are all now so integrated into our phones, our Facebook accounts, our Instas, we no longer see a difference in being spoken to on and offline.

As brands and businesses we should speak to our customers in the exact same way as we do face to face, and yes this means apologising if we offend them.

Katherine George

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