sorry aha media group

When my daughter was four months old, I cracked a crown and needed a tooth removed. After the procedure, I developed a painful condition called dry socket. The oral surgeon on call was not very nice, and didn’t want to treat me over the weekend. When I spoke to my own surgeon on Monday, he said, “I apologize that this happened to you.”

How do you think I felt?

How do your customers feel when they get a toneless apology communication from you?

Say You’re Sorry and Mean It

There’s tons of research on this—how saying “I’m sorry” is far different from saying “I apologize.” Saying “I’m sorry” makes you sound humble and is appropriate for any situation. Saying “I apologize” sounds like you’re removed from the situation. “Hey, too bad you suffered all weekend with a hideously painful condition, but what did you expect from me?”

It’s important to say “I’m sorry”—or, in the case of your business content, “We’re sorry”—so here are a few tips for how to set voice and tone:

  1. Recognize tonality changes based on a situation: Your product information or company ‘About Us’ pages may have any voice that reflects your brand: funny, dry, sophisticated, academic or bright. But your legal, compliance and contact pages should be straightforward and helpful. Don’t make people read twice to find out how to complain or get in touch with you.
  2. Choose to be kind rather than  right: The customer is always right, even on the Internet. In highly regulated industries, you may need to check with your attorneys on how to apologize and say you’re sorry without creating a litigious nightmare. As much as possible, be sincere when you may have done something wrong. Customers will appreciate your kindness much more than you standing on ceremony.
  3. Read your content aloud and show it to a friend: If you are crafting “I’m sorry” emails or pages, then you need to make sure they sound sincere and appropriate. Read the content out loud to your team. Have a friend in a totally different industry read it for his or her take. You never know when a term you use consistently within your niche may sound arrogant or out of place to a consumer.

Want to learn more about how we take companies through creating voice and tone? Watch this webinar from Mozinar: Find Your Brand’s Personality: Tips for Voice and Tone (Please see May 20th 2014.)

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