As an employee in customer service, support, or success, you've dedicated your time to helping customers have the best possible experiences with your company. So, it's pretty disheartening when you know you've made a mistake with a customer.
Knowing how to take responsibility for your actions and apologize is a skill that is important in your career but also in your personal life. It's hard to take the full blame when it's the natural human instinct to defend yourself.
A simple "I'm sorry" doesn't cut it anymore, especially when you're apologizing to a customer. You have to get the wording down pat, be raw and heartfelt, and still remain professional.
Since it's a tricky line to cross, you can use the following list of tips to ace your next apology email.
How to Write an Apology Letter to a Customer
Say you're sorry.
Admit you were in the wrong.
Offer an explanation of what happened.
Acknowledge the customer's goals.
Give a clear next step.
Ask for forgiveness.
Don't take it personally.
Provide customer feedback options.
Follow up with the customer.
1. Say you're sorry.
It sounds obvious, but the first thing you should do is apologize. Straight-up saying "I'm sorry" shows that you aren't taking a defensive approach to the apology. We all know how backhanded an apology feels when it goes along the lines of, "I'm sorry if…" or "I'm sorry, but…." Yeah -- not too great.
Just admit that you're sorry for what happened. A simple apology can go a long way, and what truly matters is salvaging the customer relationship and putting your best foot forward on behalf of your company.
2. Admit you were in the wrong.
This can be a bit of a bruise on the ego if you're in a situation where you don't believe you're at fault. However, in some capacity, you did do something wrong, whether it was making a mistake with a customer's purchase or not explaining something clearly or responding to their heightened anger with a sharp remark.
Take ownership for the mistakes you made, no matter how large or small. By being responsible for your actions and admitting your faults, you can prove that you are an authentic human. Everyone makes mistakes, and your customer will appreciate your honesty.
10 Customer Apology Letter Templates
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3. Offer an explanation of what happened.
The best thing you can do to calm down a riled-up customer is to prove that you have clearly heard what they said and understand what you did wrong. Restating the problem with their words demonstrates empathy.
You might want to give a brief explanation of what you think went wrong. Rather than becoming defensive at this point, you can take a thoughtful approach. It will show the customer that you took the time to consider how the mistake came about and what you or another employee might have done to initiate it.
4. Acknowledge the customer's goals.
Most customers will understand that mistakes sometimes happen. Emails get deleted, servers go down, and employees take sudden sick days. These are normal speedbumps that affect every business. But, these speedbumps shouldn't cause a flat a tire that stalls the customer's journey.
Customers have goals that they need to reach. They understand that your business will make a mistake here or there, but that mistake can't prevent them from achieving their goals. If it does, you need to acknowledge how your company prevented their success. By doing so, your apology will be much more sincere because you addressed the magnitude of the situation.
5. Give a clear next step.
Next, you should offer a plan of action for moving forward. After all, you want the customer to remain a customer with you. So, show them how you are going to change in the future based on this incident.
By creating steps to take to help solve or alleviate the problem, you show initiative in improving customer relationships with your company and care for that individual customer. They will be able to see how much you want to right the wrong and move forward on positive terms.
6. Ask for forgiveness.
It sounds cheesy, but asking for forgiveness can be very sweet to a customer. It once again shows that you aren't a robotic voice on a phone but an authentic human with heartfelt intentions.
However, be sure to not make this ask dramatic. A simple, "I hope you can forgive me," gets the message across while still remaining professional. You never want to cross a line and make the customer feel uncomfortable.
7. Don't take it personally.
Most importantly, don't take personally any customer complaint about you or a mistake you made. It's natural to slip up once in a while, and that is not reflective of your character or work ethic.
Put the necessary time and effort into your apology email so that it comes across as earnest. However, once you hit "Send," let bygones be bygones. Move on with your day, and use that momentary failure as fuel to kickstart some truly positive, memorable customer conversations.
8. Provide customer feedback options.
When customers are upset, you can provide them with customer feedback options to voice their displeasure. This shows the customer that you want your business to improve as much as they do, so you're making sure their voice is heard by your customer service team.
Additionally, since you're providing them with a link, you can control where the customer leaves their feedback. Rather than the customer going to social media, you can direct them to a private feedback collection tool, where their complaint won't become public to other customers.
9. Follow up with the customer.
Once you send your apology email to the customer, you should consider following up with them in the future. Wait for the appropriate amount of time to pass, then reach back out to see if there's anything else you can do for them. And, if you've made any changes to address their original issue, bring that up to highlight how they've influenced your company. Customers will appreciate your concern and will remember that you're keeping their best interests in mind.
Keeping these tips in mind, we've crafted the perfect apology email template for you to use with your customers.
Customer Apology Email Examples + Template
1. Personal Apology Email
For situations where you are directly accountable to the customer in question, use a personal apology email template to convey sincerity and empathy. For customer support reps handling an issue, customer success managers, or account managers, use this template to say you're sorry:
Follow-Up & Apology
Dear [Customer Name],
I'm so sorry that I gave you an invalid solution to your software malfunction. I take full responsibility for my actions and deeply regret the inconvenience that it must have caused you.
I misunderstood the issue you were having when we were speaking on the phone, and that's why I ended up giving you a solution that was incorrect. That's no excuse, and I apologize for my unguided actions. In the future, I will be sure to ask several questions of my customers to fully understand the situation before offering a solution.
I hope you can forgive me and that we can continue to work together if you have any more support needs.
Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.
If a large-scale issue occurs that impacts a large number of customers at once -- such as an outage, a bug, or a data breach -- it can cause major headache and inconvenience for your customers, and you could risk a lot of anger, churn, and negative reviews if you don't address it properly. In situations like these, a leader of your company should send out a mass email to all affected customer to apologize and offer an explanation.
To our valuable [Company Name] customers,
We're sorry. At [Time] today, we experienced [Description of issue], which affected [Number] customers.
Here's what happened: [Detailed explanation of source of problem and status of resolution].
We know what it feels like to be waiting for a resolution to a problem, and we're sorry we put you in that situation. We are lucky to have you as [Company] customers and on this morning, we didn't live up to our end of the relationship.
To help make it better, we are doing a full analysis on this issue, the root cause, the impact, and how to prevent this from happening again. Thank you for your patience with us as we dig in and get back to helping you grow with [Product].
When employees make big mistakes, sometimes management needs to get involved to resolve the issue. Bringing in a manager shows the customer that you're taking their complaint seriously. In these scenarios, you need to acknowledge what your team has done to prevent the customer from achieving their goals. Even if the issue is caused by a third-party contractor, you're responsible for hiring and directing those employees.
Follow-Up & Apology
Dear [Customer Name],
On behalf of [Company Name], I want to extend our apologies for your experience with [Employee/Contractor Name].
From our understanding, [explanation of the incident], which prevented you from [customer's goal]. We sincerely regret this misfortunate incident and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
At [Company Name], our mission is to [Company's Mission], but in this case, we failed to deliver that experience. Since [Employee/Contractor Name] is under my supervision, I want to personally apologize for this mistake. [Employee/Contractor Name] has been notified of your feedback, and we are [steps being taken to resolve the issue or reprimand the employee].
Thank you again for bringing this to my attention, and I sincerely appreciate your patience with us as we work to resolve this issue. I'm confident your next experience with our employees will be up to the high standard that you've come to expect from [Company Name].