collaborative technology

A 6 step guide to writing email apologies

Writing apologies requires tact and a careful choice of words. An apology that accepts too much blame can lead to problems in future business dealings with that client. Equally, an apology that doesn’t go far enough, or doesn’t sufficiently demonstrate your understanding of the mistake, can also lead to future problems with trust.

Before apologizing to a customer, ask yourself these questions

  • How much of the problem are you going to tell the customer?
  • Are you accepting responsibility? How much?
  • If it wasn’t your fault do you accept some responsibility anyway?
  • What is a reasonable compensation to offer for the problem? Might this set a precedent?
  • Is the problem one that is still ongoing? (And therefore can you promise it won’t happen again?)

writing emails that people read

Once you have answers in mind for these questions, how do you ago about phrasing and structuring your apology? The following acronym and phrases should help.

 

TAP CAP

 

Thank them for taking the time to contact you

  • Thank you for your recent email / call.
  • We appreciate you taking the time to write/ speak to us about….

 Apologize for the problem

  • We are extremely sorry for….
  • Please accept our apologies for…
  • Our sincerest apologies……

 Problem is briefly explained

  •  We were forced to…..
  • We regret that…..
  • This was a result of….
  • I’m afraid we were unable to…..

Compensation or a compromise is offered in some form

  • May we offer you….
  • We would like to offer you……
  • Would you like…..?             

Apology is repeated*

  • We apologize once again….
  • We assure you again that this problem has been resolved
  • We hope that this has not caused you any inconvenience….

*Don’t overdo it. Skip this stage if the problem is small.

Promise to keep standards as high as they were previously and reassure the customer

  • We will take steps to ensure that the high level of service you expect continues….
  • Thank you for your continued business during this time
  • We appreciate your understanding during this period

An example of using TAPCAP in an email

Dear Mr. Chambers,

(TA)

Thank you for your email dated April 15, 2008. We would like to formally apologize for any delays to your shipments which have occurred since the start-up of our new loading dock system in Barcelona.

(P)

Operational delays are occurring which are then being compounded by the roll-out of new delivery schedules. Customs has also had to adapt to the new situation which is currently set up only for part of the new system.

(C)

We ask you to excuse these delays. As part of attempts to help you during this period, we have asked that a hotline is set up to give you up-to-date information on any potential disruptions. If required, we will also provide an extra truck delivery per day at no further expense.

(AP)

We expect that from the upcoming week an interference free operational sequence will once again be in place. We apologize once again and promise to maintain the high level of performance you have come to expect from us in the future.

Yours sincerely,

Ms. Turner

 

2 replies
  1. Gerhard
    Gerhard says:

    Hi Martin, recently i used this formula, but got no answer from the customer. Maybe he didn’t read my email or didn’t detect it. What to do now? Is it necessary to remind the customer? Maybe he still awaits some sort of reaction on my side but he already got it. The best way seems to be let the matter rest.

    • Martin
      Martin says:

      I think you are probably right to let the matter rest. In the next communication you have with the client, I wouldn’t refer to the apology. I would continue as if he/ she has read it and accepted it. If there was still a problem, the customer would have been more likely to respond to seek further redress. The bigger problem is likely to come if they don’t respond to your next communications either. Let me know if that happens and maybe we can draft something to get them back onside.

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