It's grating to have to apologize to a customer, when you, personally have done nothing wrong. It's even harder for some people to say "I'm sorry", when the customer is rude, insulting or attacking, since you hardly feel like offering help, sympathy, or anything to someone that's being mean to you.
In a sense, it's not fair, and it almost seems disingenious or lacking in authenticity.
On The Other Hand: You Aren't Apologizing For YOUR Error
The flip side is this. When you are "on the job", you are no longer acting as an individual, as if you are at a party, or in a social setting, but as a representative of your employer. If you haven't done something wrong, it's pretty irrelevant to the situation, since you are apologizing on behalf of the company.
It's part of your job, no matter how gauling it is.
Apology Doesn't Have To Be About Blame Or Admitting An Error
Consider also that rendering an apology isn't about blame. Blame is a waste of time. Neither does it have to be about admitting to an error that you made, OR the company made.
In effect you apologize for the effect the situation has on the customer. For example, let's say a product is lost in shipping. Nobody knows where it went, and the important part is the customer a) didn't receive the purchase, b) has been inconvenienced, and c) is upset.
Your apology, then centers around these things, none of which have to do with blame, who's fault it was, or whether you messed up.
So, by and large, an apology is almost always a good tactic, within reason, so keep in mind:
- your apology is made as part of the company and on behalf of the company.
- your apology has nothing to do with blame, but is all to do with being sorry for the result
- offering an apology costs nothing, anyway, and it can work wonders, although less so now, since customers want action and solutions, not just words, when they are upset.