Pretty much every business will have to apologize for something at some point. However, many companies don’t do this effectively.
Mastering the art of the apology can help you keep customers’ business, secure future business, and improve customer loyalty, and avoid negative buzz that could harm your reputation going forward. Business apology letters are essential to realizing all of these benefits.
No matter how careful you are while running your small business, there will come a time when you need to write a business apology letter. Here’s how.
How to Apologize (and How Not to Apologize) as a Small Business
There are a variety of instances where your business may need to apologize. But all of these business apology letters should have a few key things in common. First and foremost, you should actually say that you’re sorry for your actions and/or their experience. Take full responsibility and acknowledge the issues that led to the situation in question. It’s also helpful to remain humble and put yourself in the customers’ shoes.
Unfortunately, there are some common mistakes that businesses tend to make when apologizing to customers or members of the public. In order to make your business apology letter more effective, avoid being vague or belittling the effects of your actions. It’s all too common for today’s businesses to try and deflect blame or avoid going into specifics about their actions. However, if a customer, partner, employee, or member of the public is upset with you, they already know those details. It will be much more effective if you can actually take responsibility and outline what went wrong/why it won’t happen again.
If you want to learn how to write an apology letter, here are some examples to help you get started.
Business Apology Letter Examples
Apologizing for Poor Customer Service
No matter what types of customers you serve, proper service is essential. In some cases, you might have representatives who aren’t helpful or who come across as rude to your clients or customers. This business apology letter example can help you make up for it.
Dear [Customer Name],
On behalf of [Company Name], I want to sincerely apologize for the negative experience that you had with our customer service team. I understand that our team was not helpful in resolving your issue and didn’t provide the level of service that you’ve come to expect.
We take great pride in giving our 100% every day to provide fast and friendly service to every customer who calls, but in this instance, we failed. We do our best to train all of our representatives on how to properly handle customers issues, but your concern was not handled properly. For that, we are extremely sorry.
Going forward, we are going to take steps to ensure that this situation does not happen again. For starters, we are hosting additional training sessions for customer service call agents, and will require our staff to collect contact information from every customer so we can reach out again in the case of a dropped or mishandled call.
I want to sincerely thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. We are always to improve our customer service, and your feedback is essential to that process. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly in the future if this or another issue arises again.
Apologizing for a Defective or Insufficient Product
When your products themselves don’t live up to your customers’ standards, it’s important to make it right. This instance can arise when a product is recalled or shortly after a purchase when a customer realizes that their product doesn’t work as intended.
Dear [Customer Name],
Thank you for contacting us about your defective [Product Name]. We are truly sorry that it did not work as promised. We also apologize for any inconvenience that this has caused for you.
Our products go through several quality control checks before they are delivered to customers. However, this one regrettably slipped past those checks and failed to live up to our standards.
To make up for this error, we have shipped you a new [Product Name], which should arrive within 2-5 days. We’ve also included a pre-labeled box for you to return the defective product once you’ve received the replacement.
We’re also sending a $20 coupon for your next purchase to make up for the inconvenience. We are truly sorry that your original purchase did not live up to your expectations, but we look forward to providing a better experience for you going forward. Thanks again for bringing this issue to our attention, and please don’t hesitate to contact me directly with any other concerns you may have.
Apologizing for Late or Improper Shipping
Shipping is an important part of the customer experience for ecommerce businesses. If your products ship late or if they end up damaged or lost in transit, it’s you’ll need to make up for that lapse with your customers with a business apology letter.
Dear [Customer Name],
We are very sorry that you did not receive your [Product Name] in a timely manner. The demand for this product truly exceeded our expectations, leaving our stock depleted.
We just received a new shipment of [Product Name] and expedited the shipping of your order. We know that you expect to receive your orders on time, and we’re very sorry for our misjudgment and any inconvenience it has caused you.
Along with your order, we’re also including a coupon for $10 off your next order. You can also find a tracking number for your order at the bottom of this email to track your current order. Again, we’re so sorry for this delay and the inconvenience. Please let me know if you have any other concerns or questions.
Apologizing for Financial or Billing Issues
Whether you bill a customer more than once or withdraw too much from their account, financial mistakes can have far reaching consequences. Of course, you’ll need to fix the mistake as quickly as possible, but it’s also essential to use a business apology letter to acknowledge why the mistake occurred and make sure that it isn’t able to happen again.
Dear [Customer Name],
Thank you for contacting us regarding your recent billing issue. We are very sorry that you double charged for a single service.
We’ve investigated the error and found that it was due to a computer glitch in our billing software. We’ve since updated to the latest version of this program and put a quality control check in place to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
Additionally, we have refunded you the errant charges, which should be back in your account within three business days. We’re sorry for any inconvenience that our error caused you. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and helping us resolve the issue quickly. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly if you have any other questions or concerns.
Apologizing for Cancelled Service or Scheduling Issues
It can be tough to manage customer scheduling, especially for service oriented businesses. But missing a service call or rescheduling multiple times can lead to major inconveniences.
Dear [Customer Name],
I am very sorry to inform you that your service appointment for this Friday at 10:30 AM has been cancelled due to a family emergency that has affected one of our team members.
Because we are a small team, we are unable to keep up a full slate of appointments if one of our technicians is unexpectedly available for an extended period of time. I am sorry for any inconvenience that this cancellation may cause.
At [Company Name] quality care for our customers is our number one concern, so we want to make the rescheduling process as easy as possible for you. Please contact me directly to let me know the next day and time you’re available for service, and we’ll do our best to meet your scheduling concerns. We’re also issuing a full refund of the deposit you put down when making your appointment.
Again, we are very sorry for the inconvenience. Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns regarding your appointment.
Apologizing for Missed Deadlines
If you work on specific projects or manage items for business clients, the ability to meet deadlines is an important part of your job. If you miss one, it’s important to acknowledge it and show clients how you’ll prevent this issue going forward.
Dear [Client Name]
I am very sorry for not getting the copy for your website project to you on time. Unfortunately, we experienced a delay due to some technical issues on our end, which we have since solved. The copy that you requested is attached to this email. However, I want to apologize for missing the deadline that we originally agreed upon.
To make sure this never happens again, we’ve updated our software and backed up our system so we don’t lose the materials we’ve worked so hard to develop for you.
I realize that this issue may impact other areas of your project and your eventual launch date, and apologize for any inconvenience this delay may have caused you. Please let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything else you need in relation to this project.
Apologizing for Late Payments
When it comes to your vendors, service providers, or even customers who are due refunds, making timely payments is a must. If you miss one or make it later than expected, an apology can go a long way toward rectifying the situation.
Dear [Vendor Name],
I am very sorry that you have not yet received my payment for this month’s service. A recent error in my account prevented me from accessing the necessary funds to cover the expense.
My bank has since corrected the error and the money should be restored to my account by the end of the week, at which point I will expedite payment to you. The bank has also assured me that the circumstances surrounding the error were rare and shouldn’t impact my account going forward.
I truly value our business relationship and this late payment is not a reflection of that. I’m very sorry and will do everything in my power to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
Apologizing for Missed Appointments or Late Arrivals
Timeliness is important when it comes to meeting with customers, clients, or business associates. If you’re significantly late to a meeting or miss one altogether, it should warrant an apology.
Dear [Client Name],
Please accept my sincere apology for missing our lunch meeting yesterday. I unfortunately overlooked our appointment due to a conflicting appointment on my weekly calendar. I sincerely regret this oversight and have re-organized my schedule to prevent this from happening the in the future.
I truly value our meetings and would really appreciate the opportunity to make it up to you. Could we re-schedule for next week? Let me know your availability and I will put it at the top of my to-do list.
Apologizing for Improper Employee Actions
When you own a business, it’s not just important for you to learn how to apologize for your own actions. You may also need to apologize for others who represent your business. This involves acknowledging the situation and taking appropriate action to rectify it.
Dear [Client Name],
I want to apologize for the rude behavior of one of the employees at our store yesterday. Their behavior was inexcusable, and I completely understand how upsetting it is when someone who should be serving you responds in such a disrespectful way.
We have identified the employees responsible for your negative experience and they have been disciplined. We’ve also communicated to them that they will lose their jobs if this type of behavior ever happens again. We truly value having you as a customer and hope you will accept our sincere apology.
Please let me know if you have any other concerns or questions, and I’ll be happy to address them personally.
Apologizing for Offensive Behavior
Being sensitive to your customers, team members, and the public as a whole is essential for businesses. If you or a team member says or posts something online that offends people, you’ll need to act quickly and acknowledge your mistake.
Dear [Customer Name],
I want you to know how terribly sorry we at [Company Name] are for exhibiting poor judgment in crafting our most recent social media post. It was distasteful and we sincerely regret it.
We have since removed the post and created a new policy for double checking the posts that our team members create before they get published. We’ve also explained to our team the importance of sensitivity regarding this topic.
We want you to know that we take your concerns seriously and we truly apologize for allowing this inappropriate message to sneak through the cracks. We strive to do better in the future and are always appreciative of the feedback you provide.
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