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How to write an apology for an email sent in error

Topics
How to write an apology email
Apology letter samples
Apology email templates
Final thoughts

Sometimes things don‘t go your way. Mistakes are made and the customer gets the short end of the stick. As disheartening as it can be, it‘s not the end of the world – here‘s why.

If you acknowledge your error with an apology email to customers, you’re effectively showing them that you’re aware of it. Moreover, you’re engaging in communication that shows them your commitment to not repeat the same mistake and reassures them of the quality of your business.

Although it‘s important, apologizing is not easy to do and many businesses don’t know how to apologize in an email. It demands a good dose of humility on your part. Luckily, when you are apologizing through email, you have the time to formulate your apology in the best possible way. For that, we‘re here to help you get the best possible outcome of a sticky situation.

This article will guide you through the main points you need to cover in an apology email to customers and analyze some examples of common situations. Finally, we’ll also provide you with business apology letter samples and easy-to-adapt apology email templates that you can tailor to your needs and use when you’re making amends with your customers.


How to write an apology email

Taking the blame for something is not easy. It‘s human nature to want to defend yourself when you make a mistake. However, as the saying goes: “Fault confessed is half redressed.” This stays true in the corporate world as well.

When we inevitably make a mistake, especially in a business environment, it’s important to own it and apologize. This act will help you build relationships and nurture trust with customers, which works to improve customer satisfaction and minimize churn.

A simple “I‘m sorry”, however, might not be enough. That‘s why we compiled this list of essential elements that will make your apology emails to clients more effective.

Express your most sincere apologies

This might be an obvious one, as it‘s the main reason you’re sending your apology email to customers in the first place.

As much as we may think our words resonate, coming across as sincere is not an easy thing to do. If you get defensive or start beating around the bush by trying to find excuses, your apology can feel fake and forced.

Instead of salvaging, you would be hindering the relationship with your customer even more. That’s why acknowledging and owning your mistake is a key part of expressing sincerity, which brings us to our next point.

Own the mistake

This might be the hardest part of a good apology email. Owning your mistakes and admitting you were wrong might hurt your ego more than a bit.

Remember, you have a chance to redeem yourself here. Taking responsibility for your error, big or small, will help you come out in a much better light in your recipient‘s eyes.

Explain what happened

Your next step should be to explain to your customers what went wrong. Making your clients understand how your actions negatively impacted them is an effective calming strategy. It shows empathy and proactiveness on your part and proves that you took the time to investigate what happened.

Remember our second point: Don‘t try to deflect the blame and don‘t lose sight of your role in the whole ordeal. Your actions, intentional or otherwise, led to this moment, so you must put your personal feelings aside and lead with empathy.

Acknowledge the customer’s goals

Most people understand that things can go wrong sometimes. After all, they have likely been in your shoes before.

That’s why in this situation, it’s your turn to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. They have their own goals and problems and are leveraging your company’s products or services as a solution.

If your mistakes prevented them from doing so, acknowledging how you impacted their progress and the scale of your error will show that you’re sincere in your apology.

Present a plan of action

If you highlighted the problem in an apology email to clients, it is only logical that you need to give a solution to it.

Have a clear plan on what your next steps will be to undo any wrongdoing and share it with your customers.

By doing so, you create a feeling of trust by showing transparency on how you plan to tackle the problem. Additionally, you are reassuring them that you’ll stay on top of things in the future and that you can move forward having learned a valuable lesson.

Try to express that this mistake of yours will ultimately help you build a better business experience for your customers.

Ask for forgiveness

Showing some heart and vulnerability can go a long way. It humanizes your business in the eyes of your client and makes them relate to it more naturally. Asking for forgiveness is a good way to underline that you really stand behind your apology and care about your customer’s feelings.

Keep in mind that over-apologizing can come across as insincere or hinder your ability to build back true and nurture your relationship. Apologies should be direct, but resolution can often take some time. As long as your apology is sincere, relationship rebuilding is likely to follow.

Don‘t take it personally

Customer complaints can be hurtful, especially if made public on social media, and losing business through human error can sometimes weigh heavily on your shoulders. Keep in mind that making mistakes is a part of the human experience and a natural part of doing business.

If you feel embarrassed or ashamed of your mistake, that’s completely natural. Salespeople and marketers deal with rejections and sales objections day in and day out, however, and letting each negative experience knock you down can hinder your progress and impact morale.

Keep this in mind when sending an apology email to clients, especially angry customers, as they are likely not in the mindset to process your feelings. That’s not to say your feelings don’t matter, but your prospects and customers don’t need to be privy to them at this moment. Stay professional, humble and focused to steer the relationship back on track.

Allow clients to provide additional feedback

This part of your email is crucial when trying to retain and even build on your relationship after you‘ve wronged someone.

By giving your customers a channel of communication to share their thoughts, you’re expressing that their opinion matters when it comes to how you want to improve your business for a better experience in the future. Lots of times, wronged customers simply want to be heard, so give them the opportunity to get the experience off their chest so they don’t harbor lasting resentment.

Now that we’ve explored these essential points and what makes them so important, let‘s take a look at some real examples and specific situations that might call for an apology letter to customers.


Apology letter samples

To make things a little easier for you, we‘ve put together a few apology email examples for you and your customer service team to draw inspiration from.

Mass apology email

Sometimes a mishap, outage or defective product can affect a large section of your customer base. It could be technical issues, a software bug or a human error that has inconvenienced a lot of your clients.

It might prove difficult to mitigate this situation going case by case, without the use of digital marketing tools like automation and segmentation, so a mass apology email might be your best solution here. If you catch it early and say sorry, the situation might not escalate into a negative sentiment towards your company.


This apology letter to customers gets right to the point and features a subject line that entices recipients to open the email. The company effectively apologizes and explains the reason behind this email campaign goof.

Whether the customer was affected or not by the error, a clear solution in the form of a discount code or price reduction voucher is offered to honor a discount that was promised. This shows how a problem can create an ecommerce opportunity for even more sales and an additional offer for your customers.

Managerial apology email

Depending on the gravity of the mistake, it might be necessary to personalize your apology from a specific senior manager or director. This will allow you to show that you understand the gravity of the situation and that you’re ready to take it to a higher level to solve the customer‘s problem.


In this apology letter to customers, even though the problem was purely technical, the Marketing Director intentionally puts herself in the spotlight, taking some of that blame.

This shows the customer that managers are willing to take a step forward and propose a solution to the problem, something that a junior employee would not be able to do.

Personal apology email

In some cases, you’ll be the one that has wronged your customer directly. As a result, taking a personal stance in the apology might have the best outcome. This will allow you to appear much more sincere in your quest of making amends.


In this apology letter sample, the sales rep apologized personally for a canceled appointment, making the whole interaction more human.

Not only do they propose a gift to make things right, but they also encourage some feedback from the customer in order to avoid this kind of problem in the future. This highlights the company‘s willingness to create a better user experience moving forward.

Those are three major types of apology emails that your customer support team might want to send to your customers, depending on what the situation calls for.


Apology email templates

Now that we’ve analyzed real-life examples, we want to share a number of different apology letter templates that you can use in your customer support efforts, adapting them to your marketing strategy as you see fit.

Incorrect information apology email template

Dear [User],

You may have noticed that we sent you the wrong [Type of information] in our last email.


First, we want to apologize for any inconvenience our mistake might have caused you.

Our [Problem cause] and this resulted in [Issue].

Nevertheless, we want to continue to provide you with the best service we can, so please accept this coupon for your next purchase on our website.

[Add CTA] One-time 10% off

Feel free to contact us anytime if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

[Company Name]


Poor service (escalating to management) apology email template

Dear [Customer Name],

Please accept my apology on behalf of our company.

I am sorry to learn that your experience with [Interaction that took place] was less than satisfactory.

We value our customers and exceptional service is always our priority.

We have credited your account for the full amount and propose this X% coupon for your next order, as a gesture of our gratitude for your patience.

We value you bringing this to our attention.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me personally by phone or email.

Sincerely,

[Name]

[Managerial Role] in [Company Name]


Bad service apology email template

Dear [Name],

We‘re really sorry that the [Service] didn‘t turn out as expected.

We take full responsibility for the [Issue] and the inconvenience it may have caused you.

In order to make this up to you we will [Provide a solution].

Hopefully, this will address your problem. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any additional feedback.

Sincerely,

[Company name].


Emails not delivered apology email template

Hello [Customer Name],

We realized that the [Type of emails] emails we‘ve been sending to you lately might have not gotten through to you on time.

There has been a glitch in our database, but the good thing is that it‘s all sorted now.

We‘re very sorry if in the meantime you‘ve missed some of our offers. That‘s why we want to give you a little something in return.

Just use the code SORRYOFFER to get a 20% discount on your next purchase upon checkout.

Rest assured, we are doing everything in our power to not let this happen again.

Thank you for your understanding,

Sincerely,

The [Company Name] Marketing Team.


Unsatisfactory product apology email template

Dear [Customer Name],

It has come to my attention that you weren‘t fully satisfied with the purchase of your [Product Name] from our company.

I‘m sorry that the product didn‘t meet your expectations, as [Company Name] always strives for the best customer experience.

In order to make things right I‘d like to propose two solutions:

[Solution 1: for example, full refund]

[Solution 2: for example, replace the product with something more suitable]

All that you have to do is inform me what suits you best and leave the rest up to me.

Yours sincerely,

[Name]

[Company Name] Sales Representative.


Missed appointment apology email template

Dear [Name],

I‘m so sorry that I wasn‘t able to attend our scheduled appointment on [Day, at Time]. I had a critical meeting that overran and when I realized it was simply too late [or insert other genuine reason].

I have left a message with your office to apologize in person, but wanted to write you a quick note too. Please accept my sincere apologies for such an obvious inconvenience.

I appreciate that a simple apology doesn‘t make up for your lost time, but please rest assured that missing appointments certainly isn‘t representative of our company‘s usual high standards.

Please get back to me when you have a free moment and I will be very pleased to reschedule our meeting at a mutually convenient time.

Once again, please accept my sincerest apologies and I look forward to hearing back from you shortly.

P.S. The coffee is definitely on me next time!

Kindest regards,

[Your Name]

[Company Name]


Business apology email template

Dear [Customer Name],

It is with great concern that we received your email outlining the problem you had with our service. [Explain the problem and the Date it happened].

On behalf of [Company Name], I would like to personally apologize for your inconvenience.

We value our customers and ask you to please feel free to continue providing feedback about our services. We look forward to giving you the best service possible.

Thank you for your invaluable support.

Sincerely,

[Manager Name]

[Company Name]


Hotel apology email template

Dear [Customer Name],

As the general manager of [Hotel Name], it has been brought to my attention that your recent visit with us was not up to par.

Providing the highest level of hospitality is our number one priority.

I can imagine that our inability to accommodate you with the [Desired Accommodation] started your stay with us on the wrong foot. Due to [Explain problem] we were unable to place our guests in that part of the hotel.

On the behalf of [Hotel name] I would like to offer you a free night on your next stay with us.

Hoping to see you soon again,

[Name]

General Manager,

[Hotel Name]


Defective B2B products apology email template

Dear [Company],

We must apologize that the shipment of goods [Order Number] that you received on [Date] was defective. We acknowledge the inconvenience this must have caused your company and the logistics problems that ensued.

The product we shipped did not meet our high standards or those that our customers are rightly accustomed to. We have since implemented a more thorough testing process to ensure this doesn‘t happen again.

We hired additional staff to expedite the production of your order and we have instructed the shipping company to relieve you of the full defective parcel. They will be contacting your warehouse first thing tomorrow morning.

We look forward to continuing the mutually beneficial partnership that our companies have shared over the last [Number of years] years.

Sincerely

[Name]

Production Manager


Mobile game bug apology email template

Dear [Name of Game] Heroes,

Unfortunately, a game-breaking bug slipped through our tester’s fingers in our latest update. We sincerely apologize for the downtime and the loss of [Address the issue] some of you might have encountered.

Rest assured, the bug has been corrected and we are rolling out a new, clean update as we are writing these words. Servers will be up and running as soon as [Time].

For your inconvenience, we will be sending you the following gifts, redeemable in-game:

[X][Gift #1]

[Y][Gift #2]

Thank you for your understanding,

Game on!

[Name of Community Manager]

[Name of Game] Community Manager


Final thoughts

Whatever kind of customer apology email you‘re sending out, focus on these main points to achieve customer success:

  • Be sincere when apologizing

  • Own the mistake

  • Explain in detail why you are apologizing

  • Show that you understand the customer’s goals and views

  • Have a plan of action to solve the problem

  • Ask for customer feedback when possible

If you follow these simple “how to apologize in an email” guidelines, your apology email will sound more sincere and will help you to rectify the situation with the customers that you wronged.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out our email marketing best practices.

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