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How to write an apology email to a customer

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How to write an apology email to a customer
June 03, 2019 1st Anniversary Wishes 1 comment

Mar 13, Read our tips on writing apology emails and learn when to send apology emails. Includes How to Apologize to a Customer in an Email Letter.

How to write an Apology Letter or an Email Message?

An apology letter is a way through which you express regret for the past actions. Apology letter is a written statement of acceptance of fault or mistake and to apologize to someone for the mistakes done in the past. An apology letter is written to rectify the broken relationships and trust between two people. Apologizing is considered to be a courageous act hence not easy at all; in fact it is an art and intelligence as well. It is not easy to apologize for the mistakes due to ego problems. In some cases a person can apologize personally due to certain reasons or personal issues.


First of all, it is important to analyze that what kind of apology letter it is. Whether it is a business apology letter or a normal simple formal apology letter. The letter format will be different in both the cases.


  • An apology letter or an email message can be written by admitting mistakes and writing for accepting that the mistake or wrong doing committed in the past. One has to be very cautious and keep the following important points into the consideration while writing an apology letter or an email message to anyone:State clearly what this letter is all about
  • Write and describe clearly about the mistake committed
  • Acknowledge that how much you have hurt the other person and show your regret on the act.
  • Be grateful to the other person and convey how much the other person has done for you in the past and what value the person carry in your life/ business.
  • Do not hesitate to admit your responsibility for the mistake openly
  • Offering what best you can do or provide a tentative solution which may be helpful
  • Write at the end about the lesson you got out of this and commit a cautious, vigilant and careful performance in the future.


There is various kind of apology letter or email message can be written such as Professional and Personal.  In Each situation the above listed points can be used to make an effective letter but a soft and pleading language is the important key of this kind of letter or email messages.  


Professional apology letter or Email message


At the time of writing any professional apology email or letter where an organization involve and writes an apology letter to its Vendor or to its customer, or to its business partner then in such cases a company’s letterhead should be used to write this kind of letter. And if you are writing a professional apology email then or an official email address should be used. The content of the apology email message writing should be polite and it must be addressed to the person concerned in the organization detailing the reasons and regretting upon the loss of time and money


The apology should be asked humbly and should also be ensuring that the same incident shall not be repeated again in the future.  Please refer to our free to use sample templates for writing a professional apology email messages and for writing apology letter to client or to customer. 


Anyone can write an apology letter to anyone who wishes to say sorry and express his / her regret.  For Example a student writes for seeking an apology from his Teacher or Principal and can say sorry for his conduct and likewise an employee of company can also write to his apology letter to boss or senior for expressing regret upon any of the unpleasant incident / conduct.  There are multiple reasons for writing a professional apology letter or email messages such as misconduct or behavior, non compliance of rule and regulation, any nonsense activity or conduct in the office premises, excessive leaves, not completing the work in time etc.


Tips to write a professional apology email messages or letter 


  • Write for Seeking forgiveness
  • Accept his or her mistake without hesitation 
  • Highlight / Describe the situation or condition appropriately 
  • Provide possible solution for the mistake committed
  • Provide assurance to client that this mistake will not be repeated


Apology letter to boss


Many times an employee commits a mistake or behaves wrongly with their boss and thus they have to write an apology letter to boss and seek forgiveness. The apology letter should be sincere and heart touching. The apology email message should consist of the brief description of the incident that took place and apologize for the same. The language should be very humble and a person should sincerely request for forgiveness.


Apology letter to boss writing tips


•The letter should be short and simple

•In the letter it should be clearly mentioned why the letter is written

•Describe the event completely and apologize for the mistake

•Let the boss know that you are realizing your mistake and ready to face the consequences.


Pressional Apology email or a Letter of Apology to a customer or client


When something wrong is done to the customer or client it is mandatory to write an apology email message to customer or client. Many a time’s people are scared to write an apology letter to customer out of fear of admitting the wrong doing or losing the customer or client. A successful apology message can turn a negative experience or situation into a positive one. Refer to the Sample template given below.


Following points should be taken into consideration while writing apology email message to client


•Admit your wrong doings and say sorry for the same.

•Detailed explanation should be given as to what happened.

•Give a clear next step procedure.

•Customer feedback options should be given.

•Follow up with the customer.


Personal Apology letter or email 


Personal Apology letters or email messages are written where a person accept the mistake and regret for his or her behavior and feel sorry and wish to communicate this to someone very close such as mother, father, wife, brother, sister, friend, girlfriend colleagues or anybody who has value in his/her life. 


In this busy life, we all sometime get frustrated by meeting our personal needs and goals of our life and also get hyper and become rude in our behavior.  Therefore, sometime, we lose our temper and the right perspective and get influenced with the existing situation and behave rude and immaturely with our near ones and also even sometimes with our close surrounding people as well.



But later we think back on these situations and realize that have completely misinterpreted situations or the events and was actually wrong when we thought the other party was.  At the time of self realization, we understand the event better and wish to apologize for the act or mistake committed to that person, and you can only do that by writing a personal apology letter or email message.


Personal apology email or letter can help you in confessing your mistakes and make your close one know that you are very sorry for you what you did and regretting upon the incident. Personal apology should be written with honest feelings.


To Whom can we write the apology letter or an email?  


There is no specific guideline on who can get an apology letter. There can be times when employees write such letters to their seniors, or some other colleagues. By writing this letter you can show high degree of sincerity and professionalism on your part or there can be anyone who can write to anybody who is valuable.


Is writing an apology email or a letter is considered to be a sign of weakness? 


No. Saying Sorry or expressing regret is never a weakness of any human being.  Rather it is a sign of moral strength of an individual or the company to build up a close rapport with its customer in the long run. 


How to make a Professional Apology Email or a letter impressive ? 


Whether you are writing a formal or informal apology letter, one should use apology the first priority in the first line of the sentence.  You can then in second line can describe the event and you act upon it. Because this letter requires explanation this need not be a little long one but it should also be a short and precise as well. You can close it by asking for forgiveness once again and also let the receiver know that he values a lot and what he means as a person or as a client to you or to your business.


Find Free to download various Apology email Sample Template letter, messages format & for quick use and better understanding.



Professional Apology Email
Official Email Sample Format

About this Apology Email :  This Sample template is very useful for those who are working professional or in a Higher Studies and in case of writing an apology letter to your Senior and seeking an apology on the act of delay in submitting the project report or any kind of report or assignment given by your senior.  This kind of letter should be written with utmost care with using very polite and requesting language. This letter should be treated as sample email template only.

Receiver’s Official Email address

Subject:  Apology for delay in submission of Project Report

Greetings of the Day!

Dear Sir,

I am extremely sorry for not able to meet the deadline for submitting the project report.

As committed, the entire Project Report was to be completed by June 10, 2019, which I am failing to meet-up. I am taking this very seriously and working day and night on the project and hope to complete and submit the Project Report latest by June 30, 2019. 

In this apology email, I ensure to do all my possible efforts to make this project a success. I am once again thankful for the opportunity provided to me to work on this project. I am once again thankful for your patience and support.

With apologies

Thanks and Regards

Your Name & Designation

Company Name 

Contact Details 

Professional Apology Letter to Boss 

About this Sample Format:  The below is a professional apology Sample template which is written in a situation where an sub-ordinate seeking an Apology from his / her own boss on the mistake or blunder done by him /her and resulted heavy on company’s reputation and goodwill.  This is very useful for those who are working professionals and land up to a similar situation and seeking apology due to their carelessness act. This kind of letter should be written by using very polite language and showing regret on the incident.  In an organization this apology email should be sent by using the official email address and should be sent on Boss official mail id.   This below apology email content can also be used in form of a letter as well. This should be treated as sample template only.

Sample Apology Letter Template



Receiver’s Name     

Company Name    

Complete Address.

City & Pin Code           

Sub : Seeking Apology

Dear Sir,

The purpose of this letter is to apologize for the mistake committed by me. I had sent incorrect documents to the client. I am sorry for the mistake and understand how much inconvenience and loss my mistake must have caused to the company. 

I understand my apologies will not erase my mistake, still I am writing this letter to apologize for my mistake caused due to my carelessness. Kindly forgive me for this and ensure I shall be very careful in the future.

Thanks & Regards,

Name of the employee

Apology Email to Colleague

About this Email Sample Template: This email message is written in a situation where an office colleague does a mistake and mis-behaved as well and now realizing after the blunder happened.  The person deleted two very important files from his colleague computer which leaded a Loss / delayed submitting quotation and company has taken very strict action on him. The person writes an email to his colleague accepting his mistake and seek apology and regret on the punishment imposed upon because of him. This apology email sample template can use for the similar situation. Need not to say that the language of this email or letter should be polite apologizing with showing regret, using individual business email address makes this official and legal. Please treat this as sample template for example only.

New Email Message

To : ( Mention Receivers Email ID)

Subject:  Regret for the Mistake, seek your apology

                   (You can write subject as appropriate you think)

Dear (address with the name)

I sincerely apologize for my mistake for deleting two most valuable files for filing the important tender.  I just want to mention here that I had no such intention but all this happened due to my carelessness and I deeply regret for this blunder. I completely take the onus for this incident which not only created problem for this company but also make your reputation bad in the eyes of the management due to which you have been punished also.

I once again regret for all this mess and seek your apology and ensure that I will be very careful at my work and never commit such errors or mistake. I spoke to the manager and confessed and explained that this is my mistake not yours and requested him for withdrawal of the strict action taken against you.

I hope this will help and hope to work together again.


Employee Name

Business Apology Letter
Sample Template

About this Letter: This is an apology letter, which is written in a situation where a company supplies goods to its customers and somehow delivery of the goods got late due to strike. The company representative writes an apology letter or email to apologize for delay in goods supply and ensure for delivery of the goods soon. This Sample is very useful for those who are in similar situation. The letter has to be written in a polite language and should be sent using official email ID or company letter head. The below mentioned letter should be treated as sample Format only.


Receiver’s Name     
Company Name    
Complete Address.
City & Pin Code   

Sub : Apology Letter for the Late Supply of Goods

Dear (name of the person),

We regret to inform you that the delivery of the goods that had to reach you by (mention the date) will be delayed because of the strike by the transport union in our State.

We understand that this may contribute to a big loss for your organization to meet up the further timeline. But, we plea that you credence our services that we deeply regret and we want to maintain a good relationship with your company. We are still putting all our hard efforts to deliver your goods as soon as possible.

We further, ensure you that the delivery of your goods to reach you latest by (mention the date) by anyhow. Request you to please understand the situation and co-operate with us. We are committed for our relationship with your esteemed organization and assure you for the best of our services in the future as well.

With apologies,

Yours Sincerely,

Sender’s Name & Designation,
Organization Name 

How to write an Apology Email or letter to a regular Corporate customer on the service complaints.

About this Apology Email ;  The below sample template is more appropriate for an Hospitality Industry Business, wherein a regular cororate customer registered compliant about the service issues faced during their stay in the hotel.  Hotel keep this client into their elite custmoer list and have a very serious concern about their regular business with them. Considering the value and duties, the hotel writes an apology email or a letter accepting the mistake and request for apology and also ensure that this kind of service issue will never come in the future.   This sample template is just for an example as how to write an official and a professional apology email.  Incase of Email an Official email Should be used and when you are writing a letter it should be Written on Company's Letterhead. 

Sample Template

For Letter use Letterhead

For Email Compose a New email message

Mr / Ms. Customer Name          
Company Name & Address 
City State, Pincode  

  Receiver's  Official Email Address :

  Email Subject :  Regret & Apology

Dear (Use Last Name),

On behalf of the ( Hotel or Company Name), I seek your apology for not giving the Services of the usual norms and Standard of our Hotel. We deeply regret for the discomfort and inconvenience caused to you during your stay.  But at the same time, I would like to draw your attention on all your previous experiences which had always been very satisfactory and also request  you to please do not mind this as you are one of our very old and elite customer. 

We apologize for this time and as a gesture of good will offfer you an two days Free stay in our Super Delux Suite includes all your foods. The offer Coupon andother documents are attached herewith.

I hope you will accept this and will surely overlook this last incident / mistake and will continue your old and strong business partnership with your company.

Thanks and Regards

Manager Name

with his official Signature

Apology Letter for a Defective Product
Sample Format or template 

About this Letter: The below is an apology letter written in a situation where a company has delivered a defective product to its customer. The company representative writes this Apology email or letter to apologize for the defective product delivery and regret for the inconvenience. This sample template is very useful at the time of seeking an apology for the mistakes done. Need not mention here that the language used in this type of letter should be very polite and sent either from an official email id or company’s letterhead is to be used at the time of sending an apology letter to the Customer. This letter format should be treated as sample template only.


To ;

Customer Name

Complete Address


Sub: Apology letter for delivering a defective product

Dear Sir or Madam,

We are extremely sorry that the washing machine you bought from us did not function as expected. We usually double check the machine before delivering it to any of our customer so that it should functions correctly. 

We are extremely sorry and sincerely regret for the inconvenience caused because of this incident and suggest you to simply return the washing machine to our nearest outlet to receive replacement or a refund as you wish. 

We again apologize for the trouble caused to you.

Sep 2, Learn from your mistakes and write a powerful apology email that can help However, when it comes to customer service, mistakes are a bad.

Apology Letter for Customer

how to write an apology email to a customer

No matter how they happen, mistakes are a fact of business. Sooner or later, you will have to send a solid apology email. 

There are myriad reasons why you might be writing and sending an apology email. A customer might have contacted your company. Perhaps you, a colleague, or a subordinate messed up, and the situation requires a written, professional apology. There can be late orders, damaged products, billing problems improper behavior, service outages to a site or app, data breaches, product recall, a canceled event, or a request your company can’t accommodate.

You name it, there’s a reason you may need to write an apology letter. That’s all the more reason to have a solid apology email template on hand, so you can react comprehensively to these situations.

Effectively apologizing via email can be the best option. Email keeps everything in writing, and everyone gets a date-stamped, time-stamped record of the correspondence. Since it doesn’t depend on setting up a meeting or someone answering the phone, email can also be quick.

A formal apology email can mitigate damage and begin repairing the relationship with the affected customer, prospect, or colleague. Done well, it can keep the door open for future business and referrals.

After all, 70 percent of a consumer’s purchasing experiences come down to how the customer perceives they are being treated—and a solid apology can go a long way toward leaving that person with a positive impression.

Anatomy of a solid apology email template

At heart, a professional, sincere apology email template needs to help you show that your organization understands the problem, accepts responsibility for where you went wrong, acknowledges the emotions of the person needing the apology, and is making the situation right.

Every organization is different. The situations where you need to apologize will be different too. Nor do you have to write a book of an email. The apology needs to be comprehensive, but keep it succinct and as short and simple as possible. A solid apology email can be broken down into eight general components, led by a clear, empathetic subject line:

Subject line: We apologize

The subject needs to be clear yet show that you also understand the problem. No excuses or prevarication. You don’t have to fall over yourself with regret here. A simple “We apologize” can suffice, with the body of the email providing details.

1. We messed up and we’re sorry.

A simple sorry immediately, simply, and sincerely communicates to the customer that your company is taking responsibility for the situation. It can diffuse potentially hostile or tense emotion, and set the tone that you are going to make things right.

2. Here’s our understanding of the situation and how it’s affected you.

Depending on the situation, you may or may not need this area. If you do, then clearly outline via bullet points or a short paragraph your company’s understanding of the situation. Especially when the customer has initiated contact, you may have some sense of the emotions involved and can speak to that as well.

This section can be key to the entire apology email. It demonstrates both authority and empathy. The customer should know that they are being heard and understood, and they can gain confidence that you are taking steps to make things right.

3. Here’s what we’re doing to make things right.

Apology is good. Action is better.

Spell out the steps you are taking to make things right for this situation. That doesn’t mean list out every nuance and detail, but tell the person enough so they know that a resolution is in progress.

4. If our info is wrong or we’re missing something, please tell us right away. What else do we need to know about this situation?

After saying what you are working on to resolve the situation, also ask for input. It’s possible that you’re missing important information, or maybe the company has a mistaken or incomplete understanding of the issue.

Give the person at the other end the opportunity to be part of the resolution. They will feel control over the situation, and can also gain a sense of being part of the team. That can further help you in your efforts to apologize and make things right.

5. What would make this right for you?

Especially in the case of someone upset, it can help to directly ask what in their view would make this right. Their response doesn’t determine the course of action your company has to take, but it does give you a sense of what’s important to the person so that they can feel the situation is resolved.

Requesting this reinforces that sense of control and involvement we mentioned above.

And, you never know. What the person needs to make things right could be simpler than you realize.

6. What questions do you have for us?

This is a section you may not need, but it can quite useful. At the least it shows the communication channels are open both ways, and that you are listening. Often, just knowing they’re being heard can help you diffuse a tense situation.

7. Here are the steps we’re also taking to prevent this in the future.

When merited, add a short paragraph or a few bullet points to illustrate that you are using this situation to also improve your overall operations. It can demonstrate that your company saw a flaw in process, and is taking steps to improve things on an ongoing basis.

8. Here’s when we expect to have this resolved, and we will keep you posted with hourly/daily updates via email.

Lastly, state a reasonable, realistic timeline. If it’s going to take up to 24 hours, don’t tell the person it’ll be resolved in an hour.

Also let them know when they can expect an update from you via email—and above all, stick to it. If you mess up the follow-through or don’t reply when you say you will, then all that work on apology and resolution become insincere and meaningless.

That’s not to say that timeframes have to be set in stone. If a timeframe needs to move, be proactive and tell the person involved. As long as they know a solution is in progress, you are likely to keep their trust and confidence that things are being worked out.

The email sign off and signature

This email has to be coming from a real person. Not a team or a faceless group. If you are the point person for the issue, it comes from you, your email, and with your name in the email sign off and signature. When needed, have the email come from a team email, such as support or customer service, but with the name and title of a higher-level manager or executive.

Take, use, and customize this apology email template

Now that we’ve broken down the different components of a solid apology email, let’s combine them into a copyable, customizable template that you can save and tailor to specific situations:

Subject: We apologize

Dear <customer name>,

We messed up and we’re sorry.

Here’s our understanding of the situation and how it’s affected you.

[Add bullet points or a short paragraph]

Here’s what we’re doing to make things right:

[Bulleted or numbered list of steps]

If our info is wrong or we’re missing something, please tell us right away.  What else do we need to know about this situation? Please reply to this email, or call my direct line at [add phone number]

What would make this right for you?

What questions do you have for us?

Here are the steps we’re also taking to prevent this in the future:

[Bulleted or numbered list of steps]

Here’s when we expect to have this resolved, and we will keep you posted with hourly/daily updates via email:

[Realistic timeframe/estimate]

Again, we are sorry this happened, and we will make it right. Thank you for your business, and we’ll be in touch again soon with an update.

[Email sign off and signature]

An apology email can be a positive experience for your business

Nobody wants to make mistakes or have situations that require apologies. Nonetheless, situations will come up where someone is has to step up and say sorry. And that’s okay.

Mistakes happen. But when you make a solid apology, the person on the other end is more likely to get what they need and retain a good impression of your brand. And that can be a net positive for your business.

Posted in Email

Anthony St. Clair

Anthony St. Clair is a business copywriter, author of the Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series, and a craft beer writer specializing in Oregon. Learn more at anthonystclair.com.
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The Art of Saying Sorry – How to Apologize in Customer Service

how to write an apology email to a customer

Eventually it will happen. Something will go wrong, mistakes will be made and customers will be upset.

When it happens, the right thing to do is own the mistake and apologize to anyone affected. In fact, a genuine apology is more effective in service recovery than compensation alone. The Carey School of Business found that only 37% of upset customers were satisfied when offered something in return for the issue. However, if the business said sorry on top of the credit, satisfaction increased to 74%.

Saying sorry is the most effective, cheapest way to turn around a bad customer experience. Because it’s so effective, knowing how to apologize correctly is a key skill for customer service professionals.

The best apologies are all similar in format. Research proves it – a 2016 study on effective apologies found that the best apologies were empathetic, specific and offered an explanation. The more thorough a apology is, the better! In this post, we break down how to develop the most effective customer service apology.

At the end of this post, we’ve included an annotated apology letter sample that you can use to write your own! (Although we hope you don’t have to use it very often…)ADD_THIS_TEXT


The first step of a good customer service apology is to know what you’re apologizing for. Everyone on the receiving end of an apology wants, first and foremost, to be understood.

“I’m sorry you’re upset” is not a good example of understanding the problem.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and determine how the issue affected them. Was it time consuming? Did they lose money? Have they lost trust in your product? Being specific about the problem will let your customer know you understand the full implications of the issue.

The real issue might not always appear on the surface. For example, say a reporting system broke down. Your customer might write in irate about not receiving their weekly reports. But the real reason for their anger isn’t the actual missing report – it’s because they had to go to their weekly board meeting empty handed. Their boss depends on them, like they depend on you, and you’ve broken the chain of trust. Because your product broke down, your customer suffers professionally.

Thinking through the context for your customer’s anger will help you write a more genuine and thorough apology. You might not include all of your reasoning in the follow up email, but understanding the real reason your customer is upset is the first part of a great customer service apology.

Key phrases:

  • I understand how important this is to your workflow
  • I can definitely see how frustrating this bug would be
  • I would be so annoyed in the same situation

Say Sorry

Now that you understand how your actions affected the customer, it’s time to say the all important word: Sorry. You actually have to say it, don’t just imply it.

Make your sorry personal. “We apologize for the inconvenience” is one of the most overused phrases in customer service. I’d recommend avoiding it when creating your own customer service apology.

There’s no secret here. Just say “I’m sorry” and follow it with the reason for your apology.


  • I’m sorry there’s been a delay in our response
  • I’m sorry my dog ate your tulips
  • I apologize for not calculating the monthly cost correctly
  • I’m really sorry I made your coffee decaf

Offer an Explanation

Some customers really want to understand what went wrong in the first place. It helps ease the concerns that it might happen again.

This isn’t a place to list excuses. If they are upset about a longer reply time, the explanation isn’t “we were really busy”. The full explanation is “we didn’t accurately predict our staffing needs.” Take ownership and admit where mistakes were made.

To find the root cause of the issue, turn to the 5 Whys. Here’s an example:

We didn’t respond quickly enough to their email. Why?

  • Because we were really busy on Monday. Why?
  • Because we didn’t have enough people on staff. Why?
  • Because we’ve had an increase in volume. Why?
  • Because we’ve launched a new promotion this month. Aha!

Don’t belabour the issue. Offer a brief explanation of the cause, and then move on.

Fix the Problem

An apology is only effective if you resolve the original problem. Like all emotional phrases, it loses it’s meaning the more times it’s said. That goes double for any customer service apology.

If there’s an outage every week, it doesn’t matter how perfect your customer service apology is. Customers don’t want to deal with frequent downtime!

After expressing empathy, apologizing and explaining what went wrong, state the specific steps you’re taking to resolve the issue. If you need to follow up later, let customers know when you’ll have a more complete resolution, and when you’ll contact them again.

If you make any promises about following up or resolutions, don’t break them! Fixing the problem is what makes an apology genuine.

Offer compensation (maybe)

Sometimes customers deserve a refund or service credit. If they weren’t able to use your service for an extended amount of time, or if you have SLAs or a guarantee built into your terms of service, proactively offer a credit.

It’s a small token of your appreciation for their patience. Offering it proactively creates even more good will.

Learn from your mistakes

If you feel like you have to apologize to customer for a negative experience in every second reply, there might be a bigger problem. Your support team shouldn’t be a shield for ongoing issues.

Keep a record of customers who needed an apology and the reason for it. At the end of the month, if you’re seeing an ongoing trend, it’s worth bringing up to the rest of the company.

Wrap it up

At the end of the conversation, it’s worth repeating a genuine statement of apology to wrap up.

“Again, I’m really sorry this happened. It’s not our usual standard. If there’s anything else I can help address, please do let me know.”

Keep the conversation open. If your customer has further unresolved concerns, they will feel welcome to bring them up.

Our fool-proof sample apology

Hi Gretl,

First of all, I want to apologize for the experience you’ve had getting your account set up. It’s not our usual standard and I understand how frustrating this delay must be. I’m sorry you’ve had to spend so much time on this.

Over the last week we’ve been implementing a new onboarding system to help make account set up easier. Due to an unexpected increase in signups, we’ve seen some unfortunate side-effects, such as the ones you’ve experienced. I’ve gone through your account and ensured that there’s no further issues remaining.

I’ve also waived the first month’s subscription fee, so you’re all ready to get started!

Again, I’m sorry it took us so long to get this point! I look forward to providing a much better experience in the months to come.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please let me know. I’m here to help!



Customer Advocate

Sub: Apology letter of {Your company name} for the poor customer experience that you.

How to Write a Customer Apology Letter – With an Example

how to write an apology email to a customer

We all have them. Some people are chronic offenders. We’re betting there’s at least one you’re thinking about right now. Unanswered emails. Those messages that you never seem to find the time for. No matter how often you snooze them or put them at the top of your to-do list, something always seems to get in the way. They might date back a week, a month, maybe even a year. Sometimes they never get answered at all.


Listen, we get it. You’re busy. But being consistently late with your email replies, or simply never replying at all, is a recipe for disaster. Bad habits die hard—and sooner or later you’re going to offend the wrong person. It could be a client, a customer, your boss, or even your eternally tolerant yoga teacher—after all, even the most patient of people will only stand being ignored for so long.


But what to do when you’ve got a growing list of unanswered emails? Well, you could either let them gather digital dust sitting in your inbox, compounding the issue and frustrating your contacts, or you could swallow your pride and apologize for the delay. There’s no need to make a big fuss, just tell the truth (or a carefully curated version of the truth) and own that email apology like you would the rest of your emails. Here, we take a look at some of the easiest and most common ways to say sorry through email.


The “sorry, I was out of the office” Email

Everyone needs to take a break from the office once in a while, and no one is going to begrudge you a little time off. The simplest and easiest way to write a professional apology email then, is to inform your contacts you were not in the office upon receipt. However, there’s also a proactive element to this one, and creating automatic out-of-office replies to inform anyone who’s trying to contact you while you’re away is the best way to minimize frustration. Another thing to remember is that this type of email can only be used for short spaces of dead air time. It’s no use telling a prospective client you were out of the office a year after you’ve received the initial email—unless you have a VERY good excuse.


The “sorry, I was gathering information” Email

It doesn’t matter how much you know or how efficiently you can Google something you don’t, there will always be occasions when the information you need to send an effective reply is simply not available. If this is the case, and you reply in a shortish space of time, your apology email can simply state you were looking for the relevant documents or files. This type of contrition is particularly useful when writing apology emails to customers, since replying with inadequate or insufficient information is often more frustrating than no reply at all!


The “sorry, my retrograde email client marked your email as spam” Email

Of course, this would never happen toSpike users. Our approach to email filtering puts any mail considered less important in your “Other” inbox—meaning you’ll see everything at-a-glance and you can decide on whether any particular mail warrants a reply. However, for anyone using traditional email clients, the potential for important email to end up in the wrong folder is still very real. Spam filtering has definitely helped stem the tide of crap we receive in our inboxes every day, but it can also weed out the wrong emails and send them to a long-forgotten folder in your email app—particularly when it comes to new clients or contacts. Most people understand the pain when it comes to the issue of spam, so they’re going to be receptive to your sincere email apology—just remember not to use this one too often, otherwise it simply makes you look incompetent at email management!


The “sorry, I’ve got a new job/had a baby/shipped out with the Navy” Email

We all have lives outside work. Don’t we? Well, when your circumstances change significantly, it’s perfectly understandable to let a few emails slip through the net. This type of email apology might even bring a little happiness to your contacts, so fire away and let everyone know you’re going to be sailing the seven seas as a ship’s cook—or whatever. Of course, the amount of information you share will very much depend on the type of contact, but just remember to apologize sincerely and then share however much or little of the good news as you see fit.


The “sorry not sorry” Email

Some people think we shouldstop apologizing for late replies entirely. After all, what’s a few days between friends/colleagues/hard-won clients? Well, you’ll have to judge each of those by their own merits and decide on exactly who warrants one and who doesn’t. Apology emails to the boss, for instance, are likely to be more important than to your colleague organizing post-work drinks. However, there’s always one contact in your list who just can’t help sending email after email, constantly clogging up your inbox. Well, we suggest you just wait until they’ve finally finished their thought (in 5 or 10 emails over 3 or 4 days) and then compose a single reply. No apology needed!


The “Hi, it’s April the 30th” Email

For those emails that have really been left to rot, then all is not lost. There’s a growing movement to make April 30th “email debt forgiveness” day—letting you deal with all those long-lost emails that you’ve been too scared to reply to until now! So forget the guilt and get replying. People will have no choice but to forgive your tardiness!


Sooner or later, you will have to send a solid apology email. There are myriad reasons why you might be writing and sending an apology email. A customer.

how to write an apology email to a customer
Written by Goltisida
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