When you mess up, don’t apologize for “any inconvenience”

Classic downtime status message

I can’t log into a web hosting portal right now, so I googled for the host’s status page, found it, and was glad to see the issue is noted and being addressed. What I was not glad to see is the phrase “we apologize for any inconvenience.”

This phrase is passive-aggressive and weasely. It’s the tech support equivalent of the “I’m sorry if you were offended when I [did something offensive]” non-apology.

Look, if I am currently seeing this message, it’s because I am inconvenienced. I don’t read your status page as part of my standard morning browsing; I’m there because your issue has interfered with the thing I set out to do.

The technology fix may be complicated, but the language fix is not. Instead of saying, “we apologize for any inconvenience,” say, “we apologize for the inconvenience.” Recognize that something you’ve done has put a speed-bump in front of your customer and apologize. It’s that simple.

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