Interacting with people is a given for personnel at many small businesses, including boutique hotels. As such, employees will inevitably be placed in the potentially distressing position of having to apologize to a customer over a miscommunication. Knowing how to effectively apologize can be the difference between creating a forever-lost customer or one offering repeat business.

Confirm the Problem

It’s essential to quickly assess what’s at the root of the customer’s complaint. Once you've determined this, it's a simple matter of making a connection with the customer. Using a sincere tone, confirm his complaint. You'll then be able move toward identifying with his feelings in a sympathetic manner, helping the customer feel as though you understand.

“Mr. Smith, when you reserved your hotel room, you understood the cost to be $81 rather than $181, is that correct?"


As you continue connecting with the customer, your tone of voice and body language should impart a sense of caring about what your customer is feeling. You can do this by identifying with him, perhaps stating that you, too, have had a similar experience.

"I'm so sorry this has happened, Mr. Smith. I know how you feel; I had a similar experience last week at another business and it really bothered me. Please tell me how I can resolve this for you."


Following the apology, an employee must weigh the various solutions to the to arrive at the best one. In some cases, providing the customer with everything he asks might be appropriate, while in others it may not even be possible. A patron of any business often just wants to be heard and may be happy with a compromise allowing him some concession. The important thing is that you try to leave the customer feeling he’s been heard and knowing that everything that can be done has been done to satisfactorily resolve the situation in his favor.


Business customers, including hotel guests, are highly perceptive as to whether the treatment they receive from employees is sincere or insincere. The phrase “the customer is always right” may not always be completely accurate, but it’s important to note that, in the minds of most consumers, that sentiment is a firmly held belief. Customers are, after all, paying for your product and the service you provide and feel their payment justifies their needs being met. Your sincere communication is a powerful tool to help you turn a situation from negative to positive, thereby transforming an unhappy customer into an appreciative one.