How to Write an Apology Letter to a Customer

Need help crafting an apology letter to a customer? Like humans, businesses make mistakes. It never feels good to disappoint a customer, but how you communicate with them after a misstep can make all the difference in how they view your company and whether they continue doing business with you. 

The most important step to take after a business mistake is to apologize. Here’s how to write an apology letter to a customer that gives you the best chance of preserving the relationship. 

What is an apology letter?

An apology letter acknowledges a mistake made by an employee or a company that negatively impacted a customer. It names the error, offers a sincere expression of regret, and outlines what the brand does or will do to repair the wrongdoing. 

An apology letter can be sent via email, but sometimes, a snail-mail letter that’s personalized for the customer can make an even bigger impact. 

Why it’s important to send apology letters to customers

Acknowledge the problem 

Naming your mistake is the first step in taking action to fix it. Sending a prompt apology letter shows you recognize there was an issue and aren’t oblivious to your customers’ concerns.

Validate the customer’s feelings

An apology letter demonstrates awareness of how your actions impact the customer, which goes a long way in conveying empathy for their position. This is a key factor in regaining their trust after a mistake. 

Salvage the relationship

Apologizing when you’ve done something wrong is the right thing to do, but you also have to consider what it means for your bottom line. Keeping an existing customer is several times more affordable than gaining a new customer, so it’s in your best interest as a company to offer remediation, maintain the relationship and avoid negative word of mouth. 

When should you send a customer an apology letter

You should send an apology letter as soon as you realize there’s an issue. Even if you don’t yet have a game plan in place for the next steps, letting the customer know you’re aware of the problem and that you’ll stay in touch will help them feel confident you’re on top of the negative situation. 

What to include in a letter apologizing to your customer

An apology

Lead off your letter with a sincere “I’m sorry.” State your mistake in clear terms to show you’re taking responsibility for what happened.

An explanation

Sometimes, too much explaining can come off as you trying to avoid taking the blame. But giving a brief overview of what led up to the mistake demonstrates you have full knowledge of what occurred, which helps the customer feel that you understand their position.

What’s being done

Tell the customer how you’re going to make it right, whether that’s giving them a refund, replacing their purchase, changing your company policy, or whatever is appropriate for the situation. If there’s any additional action to be taken, outline the next steps for the customer.

How to stay in touch

Don’t make this message the final word on the situation. Give them the option to send additional questions or comments your way if they feel the need.

What you should omit

Excuses. Avoid statements that could come off as passing the buck, like blaming technical difficulties or another person on your staff. At the end of the day, you’re responsible for what goes on in your business, and your letter should reflect this sense of ownership.

Sample letter to apologize to your customer

Mrs. Fontaine, 

I’m reaching out to sincerely apologize for the server outage that occurred on October 14. Our facility experienced an unexpected power failure, and the backup power supply failed to kick in. Our technicians have been working around the clock to remediate the problem so that it never happens again. 

I understand that your business could not process sales during the outage, which is unacceptable. We take full responsibility for the mistake. To help offset the negative impact, we will automatically apply a credit for one week’s service on your November statement. 

Once again, I apologize for the inconvenience this caused. If you have further questions or concerns, I can be reached with a reply to this email or by calling (888) 234-5678.

Sincerely, 

Jonathan Baker
Chief technical officer

Just as a heartfelt ‘I’m sorry’ can mend fences when you’ve screwed up in one of your personal relationships, sending a prompt apology letter is the first step in creating a fresh start after an error with one of your customers.