Alternatives to “Sorry for the Inconvenience”



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There’s got to be a better way of saying “Sorry for any inconvenience caused”. So we asked our readers what they used in their customer service and contact centres.

Here is the complete list of customer service apologies:

  • “I’m sorry that we didn’t deliver/meet expectations”
  • “Thank you for your patience and your time for contacting us”
  • “It really saddens me to hear that this has happened to you”
  • “Your concern/issue has been noted and it will be handled on a high priority”
  • “I am sorry you have had a bad experience”
  • “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to resolve this for you”
  • “Sorry that’s happened. What I’ll do to resolve this is ….”
  • “I appreciate your patience while I resolve this issue for you”
  • “I understand the situation, how discomforting it is”
  • “This shouldn’t have happened”
  • “We are very grateful that you have taken the trouble to write to us”
  • “I’m really sorry about X”
  • “I understand the inconvenience we have caused you”
  • “I understand how this … “
  • “We understand how frustrating it can be when your expectations are not met”
  • “Apologies for the mistake and the inconvenience”
  • “I apologize for the inconvenience”
  • “I’m sorry for the inconvenience”
  • “Sorry for your inconvenience”
  • “We are sorry for the inconvenience”
  • “Sorry for the inconvenience”
  • “Sorry for the inconvenience caused”
  • “Sorry for any inconvenience caused”
  • “Sorry for any inconvenience”
  • “Apologies for the inconvenience”
  • “Apologies for any inconvenience”

“I’m Sorry That We Didn’t Deliver/Meet Expectations”

I would be more inclined to say… I’m sorry that we didn’t deliver/meet expectations with X and that it meant that A, B, C was difficult for you.

I think it shows that you have listened. I also think it makes it clear that you have tried to offer a solution that avoids A, B or C happening again. At the very least it is an opening to explain where the customer journey went wrong.

If it takes the path of a GWG (good will gesture) then the context is that it’s relevant to the problem and not just a throwaway, random gesture.

Thanks to Joanne

“Thank You Again for Your Patience and Your Time for Contacting Us”

Thank you again for your patience and your time for contacting us and definitely, we are at your service.

The customer is looking to see that things have been solved, but also to raise the concern that it won’t happen again in the future.

The customer is looking to see that things have been solved, but also to raise the concern that it won’t happen again in the future.

Thanks to Ezz

“It Really Saddens Me to Hear That This Has Happened to You”

It really saddens me to hear that this has happened/is happening to you.

Thanks to Wesonga

“Your Concern/Issue Has Been Noted and It Will Be Handled on a High Priority”

Your concern/issue has been noted and it will be handled on high priority. Thank you.

Thanks to Mohammed

“I Am Sorry You Have Had a Bad Experience”

I am sorry you have had a bad experience but you are through to me now so let me do all I can to resolve your issue.

Thanks to Lilya

“Thank You for Giving Us the Opportunity to Resolve This for You”

I tend to say “thank you for giving us the opportunity to resolve this for you”, “thank you for bringing this to our attention”, “we appreciate the time you have taken to tell us about your concern and for giving us the opportunity to put things right”

Thanks to Louise

“Sorry That’s Happened. What I’ll Do to Resolve This Is …”

Sorry that’s happened. What I’ll do to resolve this is …

Thanks to Paula

“I Appreciate Your Patience While I Resolve This Issue for You”

I appreciate your patience whilst we have worked to resolve this issue/query for you.

Thanks to Kirsty

“I’m Really Sorry About X”

A note with i am sorry message on yellow background.

I’m really sorry about X, and thank you for letting me know about it. It’s not the level of service we want any of our customers to receive and I hope you understand that from your past experience with us. What I’m going to do for you is…

Thanks to Liam

“This Shouldn’t Have Happened”

This shouldn’t have happened. Here’s a discount code and we’ll work super hard to do better next time!

“We Are Very Grateful That You Have Taken the Trouble to Write to Us”

We are very grateful that you have taken the trouble to write to us about your concerns and we are sorry if we have inadvertently caused any upset. We truly accept your insights as we are always looking for ways in which our service can be improved.

Thanks to Vanessa

“I Understand the Situation, How Discomforting It Is”

I understand the situation, how discomforting it is, I would feel it too…

Always try to establish statements to make it more empathetic.

Thanks to Krishanu

To find out more about empathy in customer service, read our article: 26 Great Techniques for Showing Real Empathy in Customer Service

“I Understand the Inconvenience We Have Caused You”

I understand the inconveniences we caused you and I thank you very much for your patience and understanding. (Please accept my sincerest apologies for xxx). Meanwhile, I already did xxx and I will also do xxx…

Positive voice tone, taking ownership, willingness to help, and showing the client/partner/colleague we have already started taking actions to fix the issue can have a positive impact on recovering the situation.

Thanks to Emil

“I Understand How This …”

How about just an acknowledgement of the problem; “I understand how this X, Y and Z”, and then solve it.

“Let me show/tell you how I can help you get this sorted out” – or something similar.

I personally dislike the insincere “Sorry for …” or “We apologize”. I don’t believe the person on the other end when they say that.

How about just an acknowledgment of the problem; “I understand how this X Y and Z”, and then solve it.

However, when they understand and then tell me they are there to help it’s another thing altogether.

Thanks to Elvind

“We Understand How Frustrating It Can Be When Your Expectations Are Not Met”

We usually recommend an empathetic response.

Something along the lines of “We understand how frustrating it can be when your expectations are not met. Outside of work, I’m a customer too. I just want to thank you for your patience and understanding while we got this resolved for you today.”

The acknowledgement of the emotional state of the customer goes a long way (especially with NPS or CSAT).

Thanks to Steven

★★★★★

Other Advice From Our Readers

Use “Sorry” Not “Apologize”

I always prompted our advisors to use ‘Sorry’ instead of the word ‘Apologize’ because I find ‘Sorry’ comes across with more empathy.

I think it is mostly in the way it is said but would add that you say it as you would say it to a child or elderly relative.

I’d personally appreciate “I’m sorry we didn’t hit the mark. Let me know how I can help to ensure it doesn’t happen again” over “I apologize for the inconvenience caused”.

Thanks to Wendy

Use a Deeper Tone of Voice

Be careful. Being sorry with a weak voice tone or using fake “sorry” just to get rid of the situation will get most customers angrier and generally not satisfied.

A deep tone of voice, honest & clear speaker always will nail the situation.

Thanks to Mohamed

Be Truly Empathetic. Don’t Just Say Words Which ‘Read’ Right

The way the sentence is said is as important, if not more so, than the words used in the sentence.

Be truly empathetic. Don’t just say words which ‘read’ right. I’ve calibrated calls with teams and this has on occasions been challenging for teams to understand this aspect.

The words matter to a point, but it’s whether or not the way they are translated by the person being spoken to is authentic that is more important. This is why truly listening is so important in delivering good customer experience. Obviously, it also helps if you resolve the issue being raised as well!

Thanks to Gary

If you want to improve the empathy skills of your contact centre staff, read this article next: How to Coach Empathy in the Contact Centre – With Three Training Exercises

Not All Situations Call for an Apology

Using a thank you / more positive statement changes the situation from being fault based into gratitude based.

Other examples: thank you for taking the time to bring this to our attention, I’ll certainly look into that for you, or, thank you for your understanding while we correct that for you.

By not overusing an apology you’ll also find that when it is truly called for, it becomes more genuine.

Thanks to Kara

Don’t Give a Bland Apology

Why not apologize for what went wrong or didn’t happen – be specific and give an explanation. Don’t give a bland apology for the consequence, i.e. the inconvenience, annoyance, disappointment etc.

Thanks to Tom

Words Like “Sorry, Apologize, Understand …” Are Not Recommended Any More

Today, words like “sorry”, “apologize” and “understand” are not recommended to be used any more.

But phrases that validate or recognize their emotions (omitting the ones mentioned above) work well followed by either an action plan or educating CX.

Thanks to Isha

Take Ownership and Make a Difference

Let the customer know they are in safe and considerate hands.

I think the best approach is always to flip this and say what you will do.

An apology or empathy can go a long way, but action goes further.

Take ownership and make a difference; let the customer know they are in safe and considerate hands.

This is what creates customer advocacy.

Thanks to Gary

Don’t Use the Word “We”

If there’s one thing I cannot abide from an agent, it is the use of the word “we”. How about I am sorry for the delay, I am going to look into this for you (or whatever).

“We are sorry” – who’s we? Karen from accounting isn’t dealing with the call so how can she be as sorry as you are?

“We” doesn’t cut it.

Empower your agents to take ownership and provide them with the tools and authority to make the situation right.

Thanks to Mark

To discover more about customer service apologies, read these articles next:

Published On: 14th Jun 2022
Read more about - Customer Service Strategy, , , ,


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