Everyone makes mistakes, but how you handle them can make all the difference. Having the right apology email template on hand can take off some of the pressure of saying I’m sorry.
Believe it or not, apologies can go a long way to resolving hard feelings and retaining loyal customers.
Studies show more than a third of customers want companies to apologize for not living up to expectations and almost half are willing to take back a negative company review if they receive an apology.
It’s pretty likely that you’ll need to apologize for something eventually. But writing out apology letters to customers one by one is time-consuming, not to mention stressful.
To help, here are five apology email templates you can use with your clients when something goes wrong, plus tips on how to find the right words to say I’m sorry.
How to Write an Apology Email to a Client
It can be tricky writing emails to your clients under normal circumstances. When you have to apologize, it’s that much harder to find the right words.
One good thing to remember is that apologizing is hard for lots of people. Even many big businesses don’t always get it right.
If you can learn how to write an apology email to a client or customer that repairs your business relationship and wins back their trust, you may find yourself well ahead of your competition.
To start, remember these pointers:
- Take the initiative. A client may not always ask for an apology. Recognizing when an apology is due can help improve your customer loyalty and sales.
- Own your mistakes. Clients and customers are a lot more forgiving when you graciously own your mistakes and aren’t dismissive or insincere.
- Say “I’m sorry.” Client apology emails need to contain a true apology. Use the phrase “I’m sorry.” or “I apologize.” without any spin or deflection of blame.
- Make it better. A letter of apology should be about more than just apologizing. Take the opportunity to fix the problem or mistake and rebuild broken trust.
Done right, sending an I’m sorry email to customers and clients when the situation calls for it may actually win you more business.
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5 Useful Letter of Apology Templates
Hopefully, if you are following the right email etiquette guidelines, you won’t need to write many client apology emails. But if you do, these templates can save you time and help smooth things over with the right words.
Here are five useful letter of apology templates that cover some of the most common and important types of client and customer apology emails you may need to send.
1. Negative Product or Service Experience
Sooner or later, it will happen — a customer will have a negative experience with one of your products or services. We’re all only human, and things don’t always go according to plan.
It’s natural to think your own products and services are always the best, but remember clients and customers will see things from a different perspective.
Sometimes, the easiest thing to do is apologize to customers and clients whose expectations weren’t met.
Here’s a useful template for doing so:
[SUBJECT LINE:] Your Recent Experience With [Company Name]
Thank you for contacting [me / us] regarding [briefly state the problem with the product or service]. [I / We] apologize that this happened.
[I / We] completely understand your disappointment and the inconvenience this must have caused you.
Even though we work hard to avoid these kinds of mistakes, sometimes things don’t go according to plan.
Please allow me an opportunity to make this right. Here are a couple options for how we can proceed:
[Provide at least a couple options for the client to choose from. For a defective product, consider offering to ship an expedited replacement and prelabeled box for the return or offer a full refund. For a negative service experience, consider offering a full or partial refund and/or a discount or coupon for a future service.]
Please let me know how you would like to proceed and I will take care of the rest.
2. Account or Billing Error
Even though account and billing mistakes are often some of the easiest to fix, it’s important to take the client’s perspective into consideration. Few mistakes are more upsetting to a customer than an account or billing error.
When you write back to them, own up to the mistake, explain what happened and reassure them by taking time to explain how you have solved the problem.
Here’s a handy apology email template for account and billing errors:
[SUBJECT LINE:] RE: Question about your [bill / account]
Thank you for reaching out. You were absolutely correct. We have made a mistake on your [bill / account]. I apologize. It appears to have been caused by a mistake in our system.
I have [processed a refund of $xx.xx for your account / corrected the mistake on your account]. Please [allow x business days for the credit to show on your account / allow a few minutes / hours for the changes to update to your account].
If you have any other questions about your [bill / account], please reach back out.
3. Delayed Product or Service Delivery
These days, most businesses are used to occasional product and service delays that impact their clients and customers.
Many customers are understanding of delays, especially when they are out of your control. But it’s still important to keep an open line of communication about any expected delays, answer questions and apologize for the inconvenience.
Here’s how to write an apology email to a client when there’s been a delay:
[SUBJECT LINE:] Regarding Your [Shipment / Appointment]
[We are / I am] deeply sorry for [delay in delivery of your order / the delay of your service appointment].
[We / I] try very hard not to keep any of our [customers / clients] waiting. Unfortunately, sometimes these delays are unavoidable.
Here is what happened: [Provide a brief explanation of why the product delivery or service appointment has been delayed.]
To minimize the risk of it happening again, we’re taking proactive steps to [describe what you’re doing to resolve the current delays and any changes you’re making to help improve timelines].
To compensate for your experience, [we / I] would like to offer you [describe how you will make up for the delay, with a simple offer such as a store credit, free gift, discount, coupon or something else].
Thank you for your understanding.
4. Customer Service Troubleshooting
Troubleshooting problems can be tough to solve. Customers and clients easily get frustrated when something isn’t working as it’s supposed to, but you don’t always what’s wrong or why.
Solving these issues requires you to both apologize for the problem and ask for more information so your team can get to work solving it.
Try this client and customer apology email template for such tricky troubleshooting issues:
[SUBJECT LINE:] Regarding Your [Product / Service] Issue
Thank you for reaching out. [We are / I am] sorry for [describe the problem]. [We are / I am] working to get this resolved for you as quickly as [we / I] can.
To do so, [our / my] team is hoping you can help us better understand the situation.
Please provide [us / me] with the following information so that [we / I] may help you:
- [Use bullet points to request all the necessary troubleshooting information you need, such as customer name, account number, a description of the problem, error messages that are displayed, etc.]
Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
5. Delayed Communications
Most businesses try to handle customer orders, requests and questions as quickly as they can, but it’s not always possible.
Sometimes, there might be a more pressing problem impacting the company, an outage affecting communications, or a message may just simply fall through the cracks.
While no one likes to be kept waiting, the right words can help smooth over any ill will and win back your client’s trust.
Here’s a letter of apology template you can use when communications get delayed:
[SUBJECT LINE:] Sorry to keep you waiting
Please accept my apologies for the delayed response.
I wanted to give your email my full attention, but unfortunately was delayed due to [briefly explain why your response has been delayed].
I appreciate you for reaching out and here’s what I can tell you. [Give a full answer here to the client’s original email.]
Please let me know your thoughts.
How to Avoid Writing Client Apology Emails
Writing client apology emails with templates like these for the most common situations you’ll find yourself in is a lot easier than writing them from scratch. However, it’s even better if you can avoid the problems that require an apology in the first place.
Some situations, like lost shipments and system outages, are generally unavoidable. But you may be able to do something about other issues, such as missed appointments, internal delays and forgotten requests.
Staying on top of your email communications can minimize the risk of these mistakes, where something falling through the cracks. One of the best things to help is an email productivity tool such as Folio.
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