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How to Write a Business Apology Email Correctly (+ Templates & Examples)

Knowing how to write a business apology email correctly is a skill businesses need to learn to build good customer relationships.

Simply writing a quick “sorry” letter won’t be enough.

In the fast-paced world we live in; it’s easy to forget how a simple mistake can inconvenience your customers. What might seem like a minor hiccup to you can result in stressful consequences for your customer.

They are relying on you, and they want the product or service to be almost perfect. When something goes wrong, they expect you to act fast and smartly to keep that trust. 

Your business relationships will become strained, otherwise, and ultimately you will lose customers. 

However, acting swiftly and writing an apology email can go a long way to keeping them happy.

In this article, you’re going to learn how to do precisely that. 

You’ll learn how to write a business apology email for several different scenarios, and we’ll cover everything you need to know.

By the time you have finished reading, you’ll have examples and templates to win back the trust of your customers.

That sound good?

Great, let’s start with why.

Why it’s important to apologize when things go wrong?

We all make mistakes; that’s an unfortunate guarantee in life. However, the way we react to mistakes is what differentiates us from others.

If a business screwed up an order and blamed everyone, but themselves, then obviously, this won’t go down well with the customer. They will be angry, upset, and likely take their business elsewhere.

How dare you GIF

Not only that.

They will also tell their friends and colleagues about the bad experience they have had with your company, which will result in negative reviews.

Alternatively, if a business had recognized the error and reached out to the customer, apologizing and offering to make things better, this would produce a better outcome for all concerned.

The client would be satisfied, and the business would still have the customer’s respect.

Happy GIF

You should never underestimate the power of saying sorry to your clients and customers; it does go a long way, and most of your customers will appreciate the excellent customer service.

According to Small Business Genius, 95% of consumers view your customer service as a massive part of whether they want to do business with you in the first place.

Here are a few more benefits of apologizing.

  1. Builds brand loyalty. Your customers will typically stay loyal to you if you apologize swiftly and effectively.
  2. It helps the business. By apologizing, you understand what upset the customer in the first place, and you can use this to make sure the experience doesn’t happen again to them and other customers.
  3. Eases tension. When someone apologizes, you appreciate the gesture — Psychology Today reports that an apology to someone who feels let down creates a healing emotion of appreciation.
  4. Shows you care. The client sees that you’re taking action and putting things right. The apology installs trust and confidence that your company is doing the right things.

How do you apologize professionally?

There are certain things you need to include and do when apologizing. If you want to come across as professional and sincere, then make sure your apology emails has and does the following:

  • Act fast: The last thing you want to do is make your customer think that you’re only apologizing because you have to because of the numerous complaints about lack of communication. By acting fast and addressing the problem shows that you’re on top of the situation.
  • Address head On: Explain what happened and let them know why you had the issue. Don’t deflect the blame!
  • Address them by name: Personalization is essential when apologizing through email. HubSpot reports that 99% of marketers have better customer relationships when the email is personalized.
  • Be sincere: Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and realize how the unfortunate event will have affected them. Use empathy, and let them know that you recognize the inconvenience and pain caused in your apology email.
  • Take responsibility: The company has made a mistake, and to put it right, you will need to put your hands up and accept that you’ve done wrong. Don’t make any excuses, even if valid, and tell them that you did wrong and want to improve things.
  • Show them the light: You have admitted being wrong and apologized; now you need to show them how you will make things better. Show them the light at the end of the tunnel — this is what we will do for you etc.

Apology emails templates and examples

You now know why it’s important to apologize when things go wrong and also what the benefits of saying sorry with sincerity can bring to you.

We have also discussed the critical aspects of apologizing professionally and what to include in your apology emails.

To help you out, I have listed 8 different apology emails below. They include templates and real examples for different scenarios and problems you might encounter in your business.

Apologizing to all your customers

If you ever have a problem that has affected the entire customer base, then you will need to send an email to every one of your customers.

In marketing automation platforms like Encharge you get your audience as user profiles, and you can send a one-time broadcast email to all of your customers.

The template below apologizes for downtime for a software product, but you can change the wording to suit your service or product. 

This issue has caused inconvenience for the entire customer base.

Subject line examples:

  • We Want To Apologize {{person.firstName}}
  • A Sincere Apology {{person.firstName}}
  • We’re So Sorry {{person.firstName}}

The template above uses personalization in the subject line and email body. It addresses the problem and assures the customer that the issue is over.

It also offers a goodwill gesture and links to a full report explaining what has happened.

Most people reading this email would give the company the benefit of the doubt and respect them for reaching out to them.

Here’s an example from Agolia, they use a short to the point email addressing downtime issues with their company.

Algolia business apology email example
Source: Good Email Copy

Sending apology email to one customer

Next is a template for sending an apology email to one customer because of a complaint or an issue that only affected them.

This template apologizes for sending the client the incorrect payment information:

Subject examples:

  • Please Accept Our Apologies {{person.firstName}}
  • Sorry For The Inconvenience {{person.firstName}}
  • Apology Notice For {{person.firstName}}

Email body:

Your apology emails do not have to be formal and dry if that doesn’t align with your brand voice. Here’s a light-toned example of an apology email with a discount (as a symbolic gesture) from cosmetics brand Bumble And Bumble. Notice the word play with “boo-boo” and the name of their brand which also starts with two Bs.

B&B apology email

Incorrect information apology email

This short apology template is ideal to use when saying sorry to one or more customers.

There’s no deflecting the blame, and they are taking steps to win back their trust.

Subject examples:

  • {{person.firstName}} We Want To Apologize
  • {{person.firstName}} A Sincere Apology
  • {{person.firstName}} We’re Really Sorry

Email body:

Sent the wrong email? It’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s a chance to show your brand personality and assure your customers you’ll get it right the next time. Like this example from Filter Easy:

Filter easy downtime apology example email

Apologizing about poor service 

Poor service is why many clients and customers cut ties with the business service they are using.

You will need to reassure your customer that this is a one-off problem and that you are willing to go the extra mile to make things better for them.

This template is for following up with a client after they have received poor service.

Subject line examples:

  • We Can’t Apologize Enough {{person.firstName}}
  • {{person.firstName}} We Apologize
  • Deepest Apologies {{person.firstName}}

Email body:

There are many ways to start an apology email about poor service. The following example from Evernote uses a different approach that informs the clients that things will change. It’s honest, deep, and personal.

Evernote apology from CEO

Source: Good Email Copy

Late delivery apology

Late deliveries can cause stress and significant inconvenience to your customers. Often, the customer would have taken time off work to sit in and wait for the delivery, and when the delivery doesn’t arrive, they are understandably angry and upset.

You need to apologize and make things better, or they will shop elsewhere in the future.

Subject examples:

  • Apologies For Late Delivery {{person.firstName}}
  • {{person.firstName}} Sorry For Late Delivery
  • Sorry We’re Late {{person.firstName}}

Email body:

The email above is a follow-up to the templated email you sent out with the new delivery details.

An example of a templated email from 7 Bridges is below:

Thread late delivery email

CEO apology for serious incidents

If a serious incident happens, then you will need to address the problem head-on.

This apology email will need to be slightly longer and should link to a page on your website explaining what happened and what the company is doing to fix things.

The template below apologizes and takes full responsibility for having done more to keep the clients updated.

Subject examples:

  • {{person.firstName}} An Apology From CEO
  • {{person.firstName}} An Apology From Managing Director
  • {{person.firstName}} A Sincere Apology From MD

Email body:

Take a look at the following example from Slack — the email they sent out is regarding a severe security breach:

Slack security notice emai
Source: Good Email Copy

Do not forget that in such cases you need to proactively inform if the user is supposed to take any action to remedy the issue. In the follow-up example below Slack ensures that all user accounts are secure by asking them to reset their passwords:

Slack apology email

Apology for incorrect invoice

No one wants to pay more than they have to, so when an invoice arrives with the incorrect amount, it’s understandable that the customer will be angry and confused.

It would help if you acted fast to ease the worries of the client.

Subject examples:

  • Sincere Apologies {{person.firstName}} 
  • We Need To Apologize {{person.firstName}} 
  • We Have Made A Mistake {{person.firstName}} 

Email body:

Apologizing for late payments

Use this template for apologizing for late payments. You can send it to your suppliers or your workforce.

It’s a natural reaction for people to get edgy when payments are late, so act fast and aim to reassure them.

Subject examples:

  • Late Payment Apologies {{person.firstName}} 
  • Sorry For The Late Payment {{person.firstName}} 
  • {{person.firstName}} Please Accept My Apology

Email body:

5 mistakes to avoid when writing a business apology email

There are inevitable mistakes made when people write apology emails — some are obvious; some aren’t.

Take a look below and see if you’re emails are making the same errors:

Mistake #1: Sorry, but

Writing an email to apologize should never include the following words:

“I’m sorry, but.”

This sentence will dilute the apology and make what you said before seem unimportant.

As mentioned earlier, you should hold your hands up and take full responsibility for the mistake.

Mistake #2: Blaming others

This mistake relates to mistake number one because blaming others is not taking responsibility.

Never blame other people or circumstances when things go wrong. Yes, there’s a small percentage of the time when things are out of your control, but even then, playing the ‘blame’ game won’t do you any favors.

And your customers aren’t bothered either. All they want is for you to tell them that the issue is over.

Mistake #3: Leaving it too late

Always try to apologize as early as possible. Leaving it too late will infuriate your customers, and they will see your apology as being hollow.

They will also think that you’re only apologizing because of complaints about your lack of response.

Mistake #4: Not sounding sincere

You need to be sincere with your apology.

Make them feel that you’re genuinely sorry for what has happened by writing the apology email with heartfelt concern and disappointment.

Mistake #5: Not offering an incentive

If you write a sincere apology expressing your regret and concern for what has happened, there’s a good chance that they will give you another chance.

If you offer them an incentive to stay with you, say, a discount code, or an upgrade in service, then you will increase your chances of forgiveness even more.

The bottom line on how to write a business apology email

You now understand how to write a business apology email, and you have everything you need to do so.

The information in this article makes it possible for you to write an apology email for almost any incident.

Yes, you may need to add a few lines and edit a few words, but overall, the templates and examples are all you need.

Before apologizing, remember to act fast, be sincere, and always try to understand how your customers and clients feel.

If you do this, there’s a good chance that they will give you a second chance.

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