I’m Sorry! (No Your Not)

4 excuses that don’t cut it.

Stop apologizing. Too often people apologize over and over in a conversation as if it makes everything better. Just because you didn’t do your homework up front does not make it better for the receiver. All the listener knows is he is not getting what he wants or what he expected. That’s called disappointment. That is called bad business.

Stop apologizing. On the rare occasions you DO need to apologize, look the listener in the eye and be sincere about it. Say it once. Follow it up with an acknowledgement that you have let them down and DONQuotation-Howard-Wright-excuses-lies-Meetville-Quotes-147986’T make excuses. They never carry any weight anyhow. All they do is aggravate the situation. If the listener asks you why, say “I don’t have an excuse”. You’re being honest as there is no really good reason to let someone down. Here are a few excuses and what they really mean:

  1. I’m busy. This means that everyone else is more important than they are. This is perhaps one of the most common excuses used and it never sends a good message to the customer. If you’re busy, that is a good thing. Either work harder, delegate better or hire people.
  2. It slipped my mind. Why didn’t you write it down? Set a reminder? Delegate it?
  3. I was out sick…I had a death in the family… If you are the only one in your business that can make this happen, you need to take another look at your business. If you are independently employed with no other staff, why did you not call to let them know it would be late due to…
  4. Your own excuse inserted here. It’s still not good. People want results, not explanations of why it can’t be done. Results bring in the bacon.

I recently requested a quote from three companies that design and make cabinets. I asked for a conceptual drawing and an installed price. Two of the companies responded quickly with questions, field measurements and a quote. The third asked one question after I called to ask if they would quote. A week went by and no word. I called again and got a frantic “I’ve been busy, but I’ll get it to you in the morning.” He was going to work on it that night. I thought I’d do a little digging (after all I am a consultant) and see what his company structure was. So I asked him if he was a one man operation. He answered he wasn’t. I said it sounds like you are doing it all. He responded ‘no’ but offered nothing else. I was waiting to hear a sales pitch of how great his installers were, he had a designer on staff, etc. Nothing. So I said I’ll wait to see your quote tomorrow. I never got one nor did I ever get a phone call.

The fact that he was busy and was handling everything on his to do list, did not give me any confidence that had he been chosen, he would have delivered as promised. So look at what the “I’m busy” excuse cost him. He lost my confidence after I had to call him the first time. He lost my business after I called him the second time. He lost other business with anyone whom I talk to about cabinets and recommend they stay away from him.

It’s called reversed exponential marketing. I’ll tell 5 or 7 people who are interested in cabinets and they will go out and tell 5 or 7 seven more. The first thing you know, there’s a cancer spreading about this company. If he’s too busy to take care of customers AND too busy to run his own business, he’ll be looking for work with his competitors before long.

Replay conversations with your customers (and for that matter with anyone) and assess the excuses you used. Write them down, make sure you dispel them from your repertoire. While many people accept excuses, when they leave your business or hang up the phone, the words that come out of their mouths, you would not want to hear. “I’m sorry” said repeatedly does not improve the conversation. Learn to live up to your word, learn to not give excuses and learn to be straightforward. It is a profitable habit to get into.

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See also: Esquire Guy on the Right Way to Miss a Deadline

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