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.

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.

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. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

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:

2. Mass Apology Email

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.

Next, read this post on common email phrases to stop using with your customers.

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Originally published Oct 26, 2018 4:31:00 PM, updated October 26 2018

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