No matter how much you try, sometimes things just don’t work out like you planned. When that happens in business, you may end up upsetting a valued customer or client. Perhaps you were inadvertently rude to a customer or one of your employees didn’t appropriately handle a situation. Maybe you missed a client’s deadline or sent insufficient quantities of an item. Writing an apology letter may be warranted in certain circumstances to ensure that your working relationship continues. If you’ve made a mistake, caused a delay, sent a defective product or provided poor service, you want to make a sincere apology to your customer or client.
How to Write an Apology Letter to a Customer
When you work in customer service industries, your business is only as good as how you treat your customers. Customers take the adage “the customer is always right” to heart. If something happens to make a customer feel wronged, it’s good practice to write an apology letter.
An apology letter to a customer should be written on company letterhead, or sent via email by the point person for company complaints. It should be addressed to the person making the complaint and sent in a timely manner. Your letter should start with an apology that acknowledges what happened. Take responsibility for your actions and make sure to make the customer feel heard. Try to let the customer know that you can see how she felt and why she was upset. Lastly, offer a way to right the wrong when possible.
Thank you for contacting me about the service you received at our store last week. I want to apologize for how our cashier handled the situation with your item return. I’m sorry he provided the wrong information about your refund. He should have checked with a manager before telling you he could only make a return if you had the receipt. I’m sorry you spent 20 minutes arguing with our cashier. I would have been frustrated, too. If you’d like to come into the store this week, I will personally handle your return. It will only take a few minutes.
How to Apologize to a Client
Relationships with ongoing clients are also vital to your business. Whether it’s a long-time, established client or a relatively new one, you want to make sure you address any problems that arise as quickly as possible.
To apologize to a client, it goes a long way to write a letter. It indicates that you took her concern to heart and took time out of your busy schedule to write a letter. Much like an apology letter to a customer, the letter should be written on company letterhead or sent via email, by you or the department head. Try to send the letter as soon as possible following any needed internal investigation to see why the mistake or oversight occurred. Start the letter with an apology that indicates you understand why your client is upset. Take responsibility for the mistake and provide a corrective action. Since you have an ongoing relationship, it’s also a good idea to set up a time to talk so you can discuss what happened.
I am so sorry we missed the deadline for the most recent website redesign. I want to apologize for not letting you know that we were running behind. Our project manager should have told you that the project was not on track to meet the January deadline. After talking with him, it appears that he was too overloaded with projects and wasn’t as on top of things as he should have been. I know how frustrating it is to miss project deadlines. I can assure you that we can complete the project by the end of the week. I am willing to deduct a week of payments from your next statement in good faith. I am happy to discuss this with you. Please contact me when you get a chance.
Why It's Necessary to Apologize
Apologizing is a good business practice. It shows that you care about your ongoing relationship with your customers and clients. It also shows that you can acknowledge and respect the feelings of the wronged party without getting defensive or accusatory.
Taking ownership of your mistake shows a lot of integrity, which may be encouraging to a customer or client who wants to continue doing business with you.
Leslie Bloom has worked in upper-level management positions in both publishing and the mental health field. In addition to years of business and management experience, she has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of online and print publications, including Metro Magazine. She holds degrees in both journalism and law.