Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone has the courage to admit that and fix the situation. The right business apology email to a customer can save your business and reputation. It’s important to apologize sincerely and on time.

In this article, you will find tips and guidelines on writing a sincere apology letter to a customer. Also, we have prepared a few apology letter examples that will help you write your sorry email quicker.

Business apology email do’s and don’ts


PROVIDE A DETAILED ACCOUNT OF THE SITUATION.

Do be specific about what happened. In the case of an error, inconvenience, or some form of delay, state clearly when you can, why it occurred. For defective or damaged goods, let them know why it happened and how it’s not the norm.

Don’t be vague or leave things unresolved in your business apology email.

ACKNOWLEDGE THE MISTAKE.

Do acknowledge the hurt caused from the customer’s point of view and that you appreciate and care about the inconveniences caused to them. Think through the implications for them, and validate their position and feelings.

Don’t wash over the inconvenience or implications caused by the issue and don’t play down their feelings in your business apology email.

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TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND APOLOGIZE.

Make no excuses. Plainly state that your side was in the wrong, say you’re sorry and apologize. Again, clarity is key.

Don’t give any form of non-apology in your business apology email. Don’t defend yourself by blaming someone else or minimizing the problem (e.g., don’t throw third-party vendors under the bus.)

INCLUDE A STATEMENT OF REGRET.

The injured party needs to know that you regret that this happened, that it happened to them, and that the whole issue is contrary to your (and the company’s) standards.

Don’t over-apologize (the word “sorry” will lose all meaning if you say it too often.)

ASK FOR FORGIVENESS.

Do let the injured party know how important they are to your business and that you don’t take them for granted and value their patronage. Let them know the steps that are being taken to try to prevent the mistake from happening again.

Don’t promise it won’t happen again without backing up the promise in your business apology email. Don’t make promises you can’t keep (e.g., don’t say “This will never happen again” if you can’t 100% control that.)

PROVIDE A FORM OF RESTITUTION.

For defective goods, billing errors, and other objective mishaps, do offer an immediate refund. Poor service on the other hand can be more subjective so you need to evaluate the importance of the relationship to gauge any compensation you may offer. But, always remember that it costs much more to acquire a new customer than retain an old one.

Best subject lines for a business apology email to a customer

The right subject line is important for any business apology email to a customer.

The subject line for your business apology email should be clear and show that you also understand the problem. A simple “We apologize” can suffice, with the body of the email providing details. The subject line is the first email element that a user sees. Start your apology from there so that you can immediately clarify the purpose of your message and minimize the risk that the user doesn’t read it. This way, admitting your fault will be even more immediate, explicit, and effective

Here are some ideas:

  • “Oops! Something went wrong.”
  • “Did our last email confuse you? Let’s provide some explanations.”
  • “Apologies for the mistake. We’re so sorry.”
  • “We made a wrong move! Here’s what happened.”
  • “Sorry for the mishap.”
  • “Please accept our warmest and most sincere apologies.”
  • “Oops! Here’s the right email. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
  • “Here’s what went wrong. Sorry for the trouble.”
  • “We apologize”

Make your business apology email pesonal

Address the customer by name. Avoid generic salutations like “Dear Customer.” Make sure that the user recognizes your email address. Introduce yourself in a personal and direct way. Say who you are and what you do.

This type of approach communicates greater transparency and authenticity, giving the idea that you’re willing to take responsibility for your mistakes and “put yourself out there” for them. 

EXAMPLE: BUSINESS APOLOGY EMAIL

Hi [first name],

As you may already know, [insert problem and time period]. [Briefly explain the expected outcome and the actual outcome.]

It is completely unacceptable for [reiterate problem]. I’ve heard from customers who [three examples of how the problem affected your customers]; you depend on us to [the goal of your product] and we hindered more than helped yesterday.

I want to apologize for the [problem] and, more importantly, I must apologize for the total failure to communicate this to you.

One of our company’s values is [core value or company mission] and we glaringly missed the mark yesterday. We are taking this incident very seriously and are making plans to ensure that it will never happen again.

To thank you for your patience, we will be giving [discount, coupon code, free item, etc. and time frame to use it]. And [something you’ve already done to make up for the problem: reimbursement, refund, etc].

If there is anything else our team can do to improve your experience, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email and ask!

Sincerely,

[Your first name]

[Your title]

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EXAMPLE: BUSINESS APOLOGY EMAIL FOR BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms/_______________,

Please accept my sincere apology on behalf of our company. I am very sorry to learn… [ provide a detailed account of the poor service received ] For example… I am very sorry to learn that your experience with Jane, our Customer Service Representative, was less than adequate. She should have handled the situation differently and transferred your call to someone with more authority.

I understand your frustration at having made a simple request to speak with a supervisor—someone who had the authority to fix the problem at hand. We let you down in that regard and for that, I am also sorry.

We take full responsibility for the situation and understand why Jane’s offer to remedy the situation did not meet your expectations. Our Customer Service Representatives are given a set of guidelines for compensation that they are supposed to adhere to, however in this case, clearly those standards were insufficient.

In this regard, we failed. We should have trained our staff so that they understood that under certain circumstances, they should immediately connect a customer with a supervisor who has the authority to override the standard guidelines and procedures.

Please be assured that this type of situation will never happen again. We have put new procedures in place as of today, that will ensure that any customer who wants to speak with someone more senior, for any reason, will be transferred immediately.

It’s very important to us that our customers have access to anyone within the company, all the way up to senior management.

I regret that we provided you with bad service and a poor customer experience—it is the exact opposite of what we pride ourselves on. We value our customers and understand how important it is to offer exceptional service.

For [reason] we have issued a full credit on your account and a coupon for 30% OFF of your next order as a gesture of our gratitude. We very much appreciate your business and hope that you will remain a valued customer.

EXAMPLE: BUSINESS APOLOGY EMAIL FOR A MISTAKE

Dear _______________,

I (We) made a mistake.

or

I am (We are) sorry and would like to apologize for ________________Include the details of the mistake made and be as specific as possible.

or

I (We) let you down, which is the last thing I (we) would ever want to do.

or

I (We) can appreciate how [frustrating/disappointing/upsetting/inconvenient] this whole situation has been for you and understand that you are now dealing with the repercussions*. For that, I am (We are) also sorry.

*If you are aware of any specific problems that came up as a result of your mistake, write them out in detail instead of simply saying “the repercussions”.

It was my (our) error and I (we) take full responsibility. The mistake was due to ______________ [human error, computer glitch, oversight, etc.], that should have never happened. It seems that *_____________.

*Give the specifics of what happened in sequence to let the recipient know that you are aware of the events that caused the issue at hand. Don’t use subjective wording or language, instead write it out in a very factual manner.

I (We) can promise you that I’ve (we’ve) taken all the necessary measures to ensure that this won’t happen again. It’s important to me (us) that I (we) regain your trust and that you’re able to rely on me (us) as you have in the past.

Whenever possible, detail the measures and steps taken to support that promise.

I (we) regret that this ever happened and hope you will accept our sincerest apologies.

OR

I (we) regret that this ever happened and hope you will accept our sincerest apologies and *_____________.

Include here, as appropriate, a form of restitution for the mistake or a token gesture such as a small gift.]

If there is anything else that I (we) can do, please let me (us) know.

Sincerely,

OTHER BUSINESS APOLOGY EMAIL EXAMPLES

REPLACEMENT NOT AVAILABLE

I am sorry that we no longer carry replacement sections for canvas tents. I understand your frustration, because I, too, have a similar tent that I want to repair. But, with the recent developments in lightweight fire resistant fabrics, most camping enthusiasts are turning to the new Doe line of camping equipment.

In case you might consider replacing your current tent with a new lightweight one, I am sending you the Doe spring catalog. You will notice we are offering special savings on orders submitted before June 1. Best wishes for an enjoyable camping season.

—-

REPAIR WORK ISSUE

We regret the repair work on your clothes dryer did not meet your expectations.

Your time is important and we realize you expected our technician to fix the problem without delay. We have contacted the technician and learned that incident was unique and the standard repair procedure was inadequate.

He has ordered a new drive assembly from the factory and believes it will solve the problem. We are sorry that this rare defect appeared in your dryer. We thank you for your patience and are confident that the problem will soon be remedied.

Your warranty will cover the cost of the new parts. We will call to schedule an appointment as soon as they arrive.

—-

MEETING CANCELLATION

I am sorry I was unable to warn you in time that yesterday’s meeting had been canceled.

I know it is frustrating to make the drive across town to the main office only to find that your time has been wasted. Because the announcement was made when I was away, I was unable to notify you of the change.

To prevent this situation from occurring again, I have designated Jane as my backup and made her privy to all information sent to me when I am out of the office.

I don’t anticipate this happening again and I apologize for the inconvenience. I will also see to it that you are reimbursed for your mileage.

—-

ACCOUNT MISTAKE

We apologize for the mistake we made with your account last week and we certainly understand your frustration.

On April 22 we issued a check from your account pursuant to your instructions. The amount of the check was correct and it was forwarded to you. However, the amount of the check posted to your account was incorrect. We canceled this erroneous entry and posted a correction on April 23, reflecting the correct check amount.

These entries will appear on your April monthly statement. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. If you have any further questions regarding this matter, please contact our Customer Service Department at 555-5555.

Further Reading