What You Say When You Ruffle Someone’s Feathers: An Alternative to Saying “We’re sorry.”
Astute businesspeople know that mistakes need not be fatal–if they handle the mistakes carefully.
I know of a highly successful car dealership whose owner claims that “problems” built his business. He sees problems as opportunities to do something memorable.
“All my competitors deliver beautiful, new-smelling cars. There’s nothing special about that.”
He believes what differentiates him from his competitors is what his people do when a problem occurs. They do something extra, something so memorable and pleasant that his customers become his unpaid advertisers.
Knowing about this dealership, I paid total attention recently when Holly Kahan, owner of HollyBarry House in Chicago, told me that she tells her clients not to say “We’re sorry.”
Here’s what Holly Kahan told Whatyousay.com:
“In my business I consult with clients around relationship marketing—in other words, focusing on the psychological influences that have a customer or client choose one resource over another. We provide gift items for the occasions in the life cycle of a business relationship (i.e. congratulations on a new office or new position, thank you for a referral, get well, holiday or condolence greetings, etc.).
What often arises is the need to “smooth ruffled feathers”. When someone feels wronged, angry or disappointed, that becomes their reality about the situation in spite of what the facts might prove to be..
When I am called upon to help manage those occasional situations for my clients, I advise against writing, “We’re sorry…” Instead I suggest that they send a small “Thank You” gift with the attached message,“Thank you for your understanding.”
This puts a positive spin on a potentially negative interaction and keeps the channels of communication open and receptive.”
Whatyousay.com recommends that you start saying “Thank you for your understanding,” and, as Holly Kahan recommends, make your apology more than just words. That will really set you apart from your competitors. –Gene Griessman
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–Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and consultant. His video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, contact us at 404-435-2235 or email@example.com
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