Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

Customer service is everything, that’s the way we set-up our business and what keeps our satisfied clients returning on a regular basis. Providing outstanding customer service isn’t just about getting it right, in fact all too often it is about how you deal with situations when things go wrong. Our approach has always been to tackle things head-on. If there is a problem, let’s put our hands up, admit the mistake and start working straight away on finding a resolution that makes everyone happy.

The first step is normally an apology; the word ‘sorry’ shows that you understand that there is a problem and want to put things right. OK, so saying sorry won’t fix the problem but it makes the other person feel that you care and is the first step towards the journey of turning a negative into a positive. If this is true (and I resolutely believe it is) why don’t more people say sorry?

I recently purchased some bagels from a well-known local delicatessen, it is a premium brand so you pay a little extra but the food you buy but is good stuff. When I got them home, one bagel was hard as a rock and could barely be cut in half – disappointing but not worth the aggravation of making a compliant for the sake of 70p. As it happened I had forgotten something and had to return to the shop so I thought I would take back the bagel (which was against my better judgement given it seemed like such a trivial issue over a single stale bagel) when returning.

After purchasing the item I had forgotten, I raised the issue of the rock hard bagel and the person serving me froze, thought and called to a colleague who had overheard me. The colleague shouted “you can have another bagel or have your money back” was the response, a perfectly acceptable choice and I took another bagel.  As I left the shop I had this nagging feeling of not being overly happy with the situation and wondered why, until it hit me. Nobody apologised. It wasn’t my fault that the bagel was hard, nor was it the person that served me but none the less, the store had sold me something that was not fit for purpose and a simple ‘sorry’ would have acknowledged this. They did the right thing, but not in the right way and although I will probably return as a customer again, my feeling towards the brand is diminished – all for the cost of a simple word. Sorry.