The words “I’m sorry” are powerful. They can be used to convey genuine remorse, or they can be used as a way to manipulate your audience. And it’s not just people who use this power; brands and businesses do it too. So how do you know if an apology from a brand isn’t actually genuine?
Let’s take a look at some examples of pseudo-apologies and see what makes them insincere.
- “We’re sorry you feel that way”
This is a clever way to avoid taking responsibility for your actions and to make the problem someone else’s fault. As soon as you use this phrase, you’ve lost the customer.
You might think that by saying “I’m sorry you feel that way” rather than “I’m sorry” alone, you’ll be able to soften the blow, but in fact, it just makes things worse by making it seem like your customer’s emotions are the real issue.
- “We’re sorry if your experience wasn’t up to your standards.”
This non-apology avoids accountability at all costs. It’s also a way to make the customer feel guilty, like they’re somehow at fault for the problem that was caused by your company or product.
It’s a way of absolving yourself from fixing anything and making it clear that you don’t want anything to do with the problem. This makes it seem as if the customer is being unreasonable for not being able to cope with whatever happened. All in all, this sentence does nothing but insult both you and the customer.
- “We’re sorry but…”
The word “but” implies that there’s blame on both sides of the conversation, which isn’t always true. Using “I’m sorry but” instead of “I’m sorry for” shows that you aren’t trying to take responsibility for the situation.
However, you can still use it to communicate something constructive. For example: “We’re sorry that our service failed you, but we would like to offer you a discount on your next purchase.”
- “Mistakes were made. No one’s perfect.”
This statement is not an apology; it’s a statement of fact. There is a bit of accountability in this statement, but the problem is that it’s not an admission of guilt or remorse, and can come across as defensive rather than apologetic.
Your customers won’t believe that you won’t make the same mistake again in the future.
A genuine apology is better than a pseudo-apology every time.
A genuine apology shows your customers that you respect them, that you are empathetic to their situation and that you’re mature enough to admit when something went wrong on your part. An acceptance of responsibility shows your willingness to change and improve your customer experience.
If you want to know what goes into an effective and genuine apology, check out our blog How To Write The Perfect Apology On Social Media.