Why Sorry is a Word Your Clients Need to Hear


When was the last time you as a business acknowledged your client’s frustrations, accepted your shortcomings, and genuinely promised to do better? We did that just recently, and it felt good!

Having come through the perfect storm that was the festive season, COVID-outbreaks in the eastern states and the lead up to Chinese New Year, we at EES Shipping were feeling the stress of ongoing delays, lengthy wait times, and rising costs.

We knew that for all the problems we were dealing with, our clients were too, except they didn’t have the benefit of insider knowledge or know if things were going to change.

So, despite the risks that some might associate with putting your hand up and accepting total responsibility, we sent out a communication to almost 300 contacts that was honest and transparent.

“We feel that our service was not up to our usual standards.”

“For this, we sincerely apologise.”

This wasn’t a token piece of communication with our clients, this was an open and honest letter, acknowledging that for all the aspects of shipping we cannot control, there are other elements that we can, and mistakes were made.

We held ourselves accountable, promised to do better, and also outlined the key issues facing our industry currently.

It might seem like a common-sense approach, however it’s tempting as a business to stick your head in the sand when times are tough.

No one wants to admit they’ve got it wrong, and in business you run the added risk of it costing you future clients.

For others currently weighing up the pros and cons of opening up to their client base, there some other reasons why I would encourage you to go ahead;

  • Humanise Your Business: It’s very easy for your clients to think of you as another corporate, rather than people running a business. Honest communication allows you to humanise your business and make others realise that you’re also feeling the strains and stresses impacting your industry.
  • Increase Understanding Among Your Client Base: It’s important to remember your clients may not have the same understanding of operational aspects of your business, and sometimes more information about backend processes can make a huge difference. It might not resolve the problem, but at least your client has a better understanding of why there is a problem.
  • Walk the Talk: We have long encouraged our suppliers and contacts to be accountable for their decisions and actions, so it was important we did the same. We can’t demand others take responsibility if we weren’t prepared to do the same.

From the moment we pressed send, the feedback from clients has been positive without exception.

It’s overwhelmingly clear that our clients appreciate the honesty and transparency, and now have a greater understanding of a variety of issues occurring within our industry.

Having recently being named as a finalist at the 2021 DCN Australian Shipping and Maritime Industry Awards as Freight Forwarder of the Year, we are acutely aware that we are only as good as our relationships with our clients.

We pride ourselves on having strong relationships built on a foundation of trust, transparency, and communication. Our open letter was an extension of this, and a commitment to our clients that we will continue to offer support in all forms throughout 2022.

Read more here.