I recently wrote about an experience with an Uber driver where a simple apology would have diffused and solved a very “uncomfortable” situation.

Sadly, there was no apology forthcoming….

And stories like this keep happening time and time again…

A friend of mine who is doing some home renovations is having “difficulties” with some cabinetry installations.

It seems that the cabinetry company and my friend have both signed off on some illustrations of work that is intended to be done, but the finished product varies in some instances from the drawings that the cabinetry company offered up as part of their signed contract.

The cabinetry company explained that the difference between the drawings and reality was because the drawings were “what their software program delivered”.

However, it has been proven in consumer courts that customer expectations based on drawings and pictures are valid and cannot be discounted.

In this situation, what we are talking about is a small length of timber kickback that appears in the drawing that has failed to materialise in my friend’s home.

And as my friend said, it’s only a small length of wood that the cabinetry company has drawn “a line in the sand” over, and in the whole scheme of things, the cabinetry company would probably have been better to have said “Sorry” to my friend and fitted the kickback and moved on.

Have there been times in your practice….

Have there been times in your practice when an instant apology has been the ultimate fire extinguisher?

Many years ago, my first patient on a Monday morning was a new patient to the practice requiring a relief of pain for a toothache.

The patient did not want to lose the tooth so I extirpated the pulp, placed a sedative dressing in the tooth and temporised a restoration and referred the patient for endodontic treatment.

After the patient had been transferred to the reception for the scheduling of the endodontic appointment, and to settle up our fee for the day, the receptionist came to me to say that the patient was unhappy about my fee.

I came to the front office and immediately apologised to the patient for our practice’s miscommunication to him when he scheduled, that had created this misunderstanding.

I then said to the patient that this was my solution:

“Obviously there has been a misunderstanding about our fee for today and as the owner of the practice I take full responsibility. Obviously we have performed some treatment and have gotten you out of trouble, so here’s all I ask… whatever you think is a fair price for you to pay for my services today, I’m happy to accept as full payment…. and if you think that zero is a fair price, then I’m happy with that decision.”

The patient was surprised.

The patient was looking for an argument.

But if this was a tug-of-war, sadly for this patient I had dropped the rope.

I repeated to the patient:

“Whatever you think is a fair price for you to pay for my services today, I’m happy to accept, and if you think that zero is a fair price, then I’m happy with that decision.”

And I left the patient with my receptionist.

And the patient paid zero.

Sometimes winning an argument is not the best result..

Don’t ever regret making an apology to resolve a small issue and get it over with.

The $405.00 that I gifted that patient for his treatment was probably one of the best apologies and one of the best investments that I ever made, because it got rid of that grub out of my practice and it shut him up.

Don’t ever regret spending a few pennies to resolve a small issue and get it over with.

Because those pennies are money well spent….

Maybe the cabinetry company that my friend is dealing with needs to have a little heart-to-heart with themselves about their tug-of-war philosophy…


Dr. David Moffet BDS FPFA CSP is a certified CX Experience coach. David works with his wife Jayne Bandy to help SME businesses improve their Customer Service Systems to create memorable World Class experiences for their valued clients and customers. Click here to find out how David and Jayne can help your business