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?)
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.
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