Tag Archives: apology

The Miss Universe Mess

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HiResIt can only be called “The Miss Universe Mess of 2015.” By now the entire world knows of the embarrassing and awkward moment Sunday night when Steve Harvey, host of the Miss Universe pageant, misread his cue card and mistakenly announced that Miss Colombia was the 2015 Miss Universe. As soon as Harvey realized his error, he walked to the front of the stage showing deep emotion and announced his mistake. With his next words, he took full responsibility for the mix-up. He held up the card so all could see that he had the correct information. It was a terrible moment for all as the crown had to be removed from the head of Miss Colombia and given to Miss Philippines, the true winner.

The story has been covered by all the media. It has been in print, online and a major topic on social media. Everyone has an opinion, and they are as all over the map as the list of contestants. Some people find this event amusing and others find it tragic. Blame has been placed on Harvey—some people even suggesting that his lack of experience as a pageant host was the cause. Others are adamant that poor design of the infamous cue card was to blame.

Three people’s lives were changed Sunday night. Whatever side you are on regarding this incredible snafu, one thing seems certain. Steve Harvey deserves praise for his instantaneous response and his sincere apology. His actions and those of others bring to mind the words of Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Photo from Savannah magazine

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com

Good Business Etiquette is Keeping Your Cool When the Customer Gets Hot

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ArgumentA day in the life of a businessperson can be rewarding and satisfying or it can be frustrating and stressful.  When things go wrong, some people lose control.  Holding emotions in check and reacting professionally under fire are not always easy.  It is particularly difficult to be nice when people are not being nice to you.

So what do you do to keep your cool when the customer is chewing you out?  Most of the time, it is not even your fault.  It could be that the problem was with a product or a service that was handled by someone else in your organization.  You’re getting the blame because the unhappy person found you first.  Good business etiquette suggests following these four steps to diffuse the situation and lead to a happy ending.

Step one is to apologize.  “But,” you say, “it’s not my fault.”  It doesn’t matter who’s to blame; apologize anyway.  As the person representing your company, you have a responsibility to see that things go well.  Your willingness to be accountable will have a positive effect.  After all, it takes two to have an argument. If one of you refuses to be disagreeable, you can’t have a disagreement. You are not accepting blame—you are simply saying, “I’m sorry about the problem.”  You are wasting your breath unless you apologize with complete sincerity so be sure that your tone of voice matches your words.

Step two is to sympathize with the irate customer.  Let the person know that you can identify with his feelings.  Don’t say, “I know exactly how you feel” if you don’t. Say that you understand the frustration of receiving a faulty product or poor service.  The angry person begins to feel better as soon as his reaction is validated and he senses that you are on his side.

Step three is to accept responsibility for the situation.  Be accountable to the customer.  Let him know that you intend to do whatever it takes to make things right.  You can’t help what has already happened, but you will come up with a solution to the problem or you will find someone who can.

The last step is to prepare to take action.  Decide what you can do and tell the customer.  You will replace the defective or incorrect product as quickly as possible.  If the issue was poor service, deliver better service.  Whenever you can offer a bonus of some sort or waive fees, the tiger in front of you will be transformed into a pussycat.

Use the acronym “ASAP” to remember these four steps for calming upset customers.  Each letter represents part of the process.

A – apologize.

S – sympathize.

A  – accept responsibility

P  – prepare to take action.

Becoming argumentative and reactionary will solve nothing.  Instead, diffuse the client’s anger by being apologetic and sympathetic and focus on positive steps that will resolve the situation.  Before you know it, your adversaries will become your allies.

Oh yes, remember to smile.  It will make everyone feel better and behave better. And it is simply good business etiquette.

Here’s to happy customers!

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

 

 

Eight Etiquette Tips for an Effective Business Apology

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In the past few weeks we have been inundated with stories about the outrageous behavior of Serena Williams at the U.S. Open, Kanye West at the VMA’s and Joe Wilson during a joint session of Congress. Just when we thought things were dying down, attention turned to their apologies, the manner, the style and the number of them. If anything, all three public figures were shining examples of how not to apologize.

There is an art to the apology. As my friend, Jerry Gitchel says, “I’ve found that a good apology can often strengthen a business relationship.” When done correctly, an apology can enhance your business and create customer loyalty; still it’s amazing how many people don’t know how or when to apologize

There are eight steps to a good apology. Serena, Kanye and Joe take note.

#1. Say, “I’m sorry.” In spite of what your lawyer may have told you, those should be the first words out of your mouth.

#2. Be sincere. Your body language and tone of voice need to match your words. People believe what they see over what they hear. Look, sound and feel genuinely sorry.

#3. React quickly. An apology that is several days old loses its credibility and effectiveness.

#4. Drop the excuses. Take responsibility for whatever you said or did. You weaken your apology when you start piling on excuses like Serena, who in apology number two said that “In the heat of battle, I let my passion and emotion get the better of me and as a result handled the situation poorly.”  That was a lame attempt at an excuse and not a hint of “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong.”

#5. Make amends. Do whatever you can do to set things right. I recently sent one of my products to a customer. The item did not arrive on the day I promised and I had an unhappy individual on my hands. To set things right, I apologized and offered to send a replacement by overnight delivery. There was a significant cost to me, but I won over a customer who will hopefully come back to me for additional products or services.

#6. Don’t get defensive. Once you get your dander up, you are headed for trouble and will only make the situation worse. One of my favorite sayings is “Never argue with an idiot. Those watching may not be able to tell the difference.”

#7. Listen without interrupting. When customers get upset, they need to vent. Often they require something to chew on and that may be you. Let them vent. You may learn something important from what they say.

#8. Finally, don’t go overboard and over-apologize. Make your first apology your last. Say what you need to say and do what you need to do to make things right, then move on. You will only make things seem worse by apologizing over and over again.

People can come up with any number of reasons not to apologize, but there are just as many for saying “I’m sorry.” Number one on that list is because it is the right thing to do. Not only that, it is good for business.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.