Timing an Apology Correctly
When should you deliver the apology? How does timing an apology
correctly affect the way it is perceived? Does every incident require
immediate action or do some situations warrant a delay?
As we illustrated in the example of a typical
customer apology letter, timing
an apology correctly with a quick response to a business error can actually
benefit the company and build customer loyalty. There are very few cases
when it is best to hold off on apologizing, especially in business.
However, if the incident could result in ANY form of legal action or
liability with ANY party then delaying a response to seek the legal
advice of an attorney is VERY prudent. Follow this link to learn more about the legal
implications of business apologies.
For example, "Company B"
is a vendor of "Company A" whose last shipment of product was
unsatisfactory. "Company A" advises "Vendor B" of the situation with a
detailed account of the poor quality of goods they received. "Vendor B"
holds off on delivering an apology for the substandard shipment.
||Apologies are about acknowledging a mistake or wrongdoing, and their
effectiveness is largely determined by the offended party believing in their
sincerity. Poor timing or a delay in delivering a
perfect business apology could
raise questions about your sincerity or imply ulterior
motives. In either case, this is bad for business.
How does timing an apology play into how the apology is perceived? How does
the relationship between the two companies change as a result of poor timing?
"Company A" is now more likely to question the integrity of "Vendor B". Why
did they not apologize and acknowledge the problems with their product when
there is tangible evidence of defective goods?
Some of the likely conclusions that "Company A" will draw on "Vendor B" are:
||The company has no long-term vision or integrity.
||The company is only interested in making money.
||The company does not care about the relationship.
||The company cannot be relied on to deliver as promised.
Once "Company A" begins to think of "Vendor B" in these terms
of the relationship will have changed.
If the apology is issued too late, it
will likely be viewed as insincere or, worse, as a shallow
effort to de-escalate the conflict to avoid further action by "Company A". In the end "Vendor B" is seen as
untrustworthy and, therefore, unworthy of future business.
However, a well timed apology in the same situation can produce
significantly more positive (and profitable) results.
The apology is now more likely to be viewed as sincere.
As a result, the
company will gain more trust and integrity while creating the impression it
has long term vision.
Since dealing with problems is such a natural and
important part of
doing business, the perception created by a well timed apology will
inevitably enhance the overall value of maintaining the business
sample apology letter that
"Vendor B" would issue in this situation.
So given the same set of circumstances we now see that timing an apology
correctly can make all the difference in how it, and the person or company
extending it, are perceived.
Timing an Apology to the Business Apology Home Page
Or, go to the Perfect Apology Home Page.