Business Apologies 101
What are you apologizing for? Business apologies are usually the result
of a business oversight, human error, an indiscretion, or something your
company failed to do, prevent or anticipate.
Business errors include, among other infractions: poor service, billing issues, shipment delays,
missed deadlines, computer glitches, defective products, unsatisfactory services, and
misplaced or mixed up orders.
Some errors are preventable while others aren't. In the world of
business apologies it just doesn't matterAPOLOGIZE!
Instead of viewing
an apology as an unfortunate part of the job that forces you to acknowledge
a weakness, view them as a valuable opportunity to solidify and build your
There are obviously hundreds of other potential reasons why a business
apology may be appropriatedon't avoid them, look for them, analyze them
and USE them. Companies often make mistakes that are overlooked by
clients. These mistakes should NOT be viewed as close calls but
INSTEAD as opportunities.
For example, we know of a major airline carrier who has one of the most proactive apology
systems in business that distributes frequent flyer miles to customers who
have experienced delays or other problems BEFORE getting the email or
complaint. The letter is sent out to all customers, even those that
understood the circumstances and where never intending to complain.
By doing so, not only are they solidifying their relationships with
their customers but also building on their existing loyalty program.
It's a win-win situation for them and makes perfect business
sense. See a sample of the proactive
business apology letter they use.
In order to formulate our business apologies and direct them to the
appropriate parties, we need to clearly understand what it is that we are
apologizing for, and all of the repercussions that surround the
In our sample customer apology letter
it was very clear what the problem was and who the apology should be
directed to. However, not all situations will be as black and white.
For example, in a situation where "employee A" breaks a confidence and
reveals to the office personal information about "employee B" leading to the
resignation of "employee B", what does "employee A" apologize for and to
It goes without saying that "employee A" needs to apologize to "employee B"
for breaking their confidence which led to the eventual resignation. But is
that the end of it? What other factors, if any, are there to consider?
If properly thought through, "employee A" will realize that the company now
has a human resource issue due to their indiscretion and the departure of
"employee B"an issue that also needs to be addressed.
So the perfect
apology in this situation should include a letter of apology to their boss for the inconvenience that
the resignation of "employee B" has caused the company.
Problems and mistakes are, well, a part of doing business and being human.
And, as much as we and those that we deal with in our business life, would
like them not to happen, they do. What is important to remember when trying
to determine a course of action is to analyze and assess the situation from
different points of view.
Appreciating how others have been affected by an event and understanding
what repercussions surround that event, is an important part of delivering
Business apologies, in this regard, can sometimes be fairly complex with a
host of affected parties. So make sure that you take into account all of the
parties involved and see things from their perspective. By doing so, you
will quickly realize who you should be apologizing to and reap the benefits
of a perfect apology.
formal apologies and when they are
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