7 Ways how to apologize in an email: How to write letter of apology to a customer?

Anton Shabatov - September 5, 2018 - 0 comments

apologize emails

Why Can Writing apology business letters Be Challenging?

It is not enough just to know “how”. In some cases, you need to take efforts to admit you are wrong. Here are some reasons why:

  1. You may afraid that by writing an email to apologize you will admit you are a bad person. However, one mistake just proves that you are a human and one pitfall will not ruin your reputation to the ground.
  2. You may feel like you need to defend yourself. Feeling of being ashamed may trigger your defensive forces. But it is important to control such desires.
  3. You are afraid you will be accused even more. We cannot deny the possibility of this, but this is not the reason not to say sorry at all. Also, you are lucky to do this in written form, so you have time to rethink your words and filter off unreasonable comments of the customer.

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Okay, we have dealt with a psychological aspect of apologizing by email. Now let’s move to the technical aspects.

How To Write an email of apology: Guide

Basically, your email must have a formal structure with a fixed order of the thoughts. However, you can use your own creative approach, if you are sure your apology will be accepted correctly. But here are some main elements of such apologize for formal email:

  1. The opening. Think of what relationships you have with the receiver(s). It may be more formal addressing if it is your boss or more informal with the partner, colleague etc. This part of the email will set the required mood for the following text.
  2. Defining the problem. You need to face that you have made a mistake and you admit it. Do not start excusing yourself and redirect responsibility to other people or circumstances. Be honest and this will help you to gain respect despite the situation.
  3. The actual apology. This is the part that reflects your main point. Again, avoid redirecting the blame. Be humble and honest. Your words must show your sincere regret.
  4. Solution. Sure, you cannot turn back the clock, but you need to reassure the reader, that there is less likely you will fail like this again. This block is important as it shows your strong desire to continue your collaboration with the improved conditions.
  5. Conclusion. Here you may thank the person for the time for reading your apologizing email and set a background for the further communication.

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Express your most sincere apologies

Sincerity is the key to your subscriber’s heart. Although genuine feelings are an apparent reason for an apologize email, many people find it hard to be heartfelt in their emails. In this case, there is no need to adopt opposing tactics or try to justify your actions. Otherwise, your plea will have a smack of forgery and compulsion. Thus, you will not save your relations with your customers, but rather, exacerbate them. 

Before you begin email of apology, there are a few important things you should not forget:

  1. Your email of an apology should be short and specific. You don’t need to develop the subject about what happened, just explain the matter.
  2. The tone you set in your email should be full of respect, frankness and professional manner. 

In case of apologies for the incompetent actions of your employee, it is very important to undertake all responsibility. It should be emphasized that you in no way lessen the guilt of your employee, and he or she will definitely face the consequences. Ultimately, everything your subordinates do influences your company’s image.

Apology Letter Sample: 

Dear Mrs Dickens,

On behalf of Technical Breakthrough, I truly apologize for the terrible incident you went through while communicating with our employee Dan. It was absolutely unacceptable for him to make unprofessional comments to you during your last visit to our store. You were looking for reliable information, but received unconstructive criticism instead.  

I, as the Head of the company, believe that I should take on the responsibility for Dan’s behavior. I was forced to reprimand him and send him to training courses. We hope that Dan can get some good understanding of the principles of high-quality customer service there. 

On my part, I express my sincere gratitude that you preferred not to stand aside and raised this sensitive matter. I apologize once more. I want to compensate for the spiritual injury that you suffered. I hope that a 20% off on any purchase in our chain of stores may help you grant us with a second chance. And we will prove that Technical Breakthrough is a place where customers are appreciated. We raise hopes to see you in our store soon!

Yours Sincerely, 

John Blaine 

Head of Technical Breakthrough.

Own the mistake

To answer the question of how to apologize professionally in an email, recognition of one’s own mistakes takes an important place. Although this part may seem the most difficult one. Unfortunately, for most people, admitting that they screwed up hurts their own ego and undermines their self-confidence.

It is worth remembering that a letter of apology to a customer is sometimes the only chance to atone. By taking on responsibilities for a small or large failure, you can enhance your reputation. 

Apology Letter Sample:

Dear Frankie,

I am extremely sorry for being late and unable to drive you from the station last night. I do not seek excuses for my action and I did not mean to make you wait.

I am the person who does not fail people, especially when they rely on me. And so for this situation not to happen again, I am going to use calendar alerts. This way I can always come on time or even earlier. 

I ask you to accept my abject apology. I hope this failure will not become a stumbling block in our relations, and you can turn to me for help again. 

Best Regards,

Explain what happened

The next important step in compiling an apology email to the customer is to clarify the factors that urged the unpleasant issue. It would be good if you could not just explain why something went wrong. You should manage to convince your clients that your actions really didn’t mean to offend them. With this effective strategy, you will cool them down. Your professional letter of apology should include empathy and initiative. The customer must realize that everything possible was done by you and you did not let everything go by the flow. On the contrary, you initiated studying the causes of the incident. Remember, do not disclaim your own responsibility and downgrade your role in this matter. 

Of course, even in a nightmare you’d never want to see that you upset a few people, not just one person. If you know how to apologize in a business email, you should never say something like: “I am sorry, if someone is offended.” It’s the same as saying: “Too bad if some of you do not understand me. And you yourselves are not angels, and therefore you are also to blame for what happened. ” It sounds much better and more effective: “I am sorry to have offended someone.”

Apology Letter Sample:

Hello Everyone,

Please, accept my sincere apologies! When planning my outfit for the annual theme party organized by our corporation, I took it frivolously and irresponsibly. It’s completely clear to me now that I chose an outfit which doesn’t correspond to the corporate spirit of our firm. And it also offends the feelings and dignity of its employees. I had no thought of hurting anyone’s feelings. But now, when I look back, I see that I came absolutely unprepared and dressed inappropriately. I promise, I will definitely take into account that my goofy humor is not the best assistant to me in such matters. And the image for corporate events needs to be thought out beforehand. And it definitely should not shock the audience, but rather create a positive impression. I hope you all can forgive me. I didn’t mean to cause all the inconvenience that you were forced to experience. In order to make amends at least to some extent, I brought delicious donuts. I left them in the coffee break room. Please take this treat as a small compensation for what I did before.

Best Regards, 


Acknowledge the customer’s goals

Each of us understands that sometimes there are situations when everything doesn’t go as planned. Your customer also understands this, and, like you, he or she was already in your shoes before.

But the client always pursues his goals, using products or services of your company to achieve them. Anything wrong that you or your employees made could prevent the client from achieving what he or she desired. Therefore, it should be acknowledged that you slowed down their promotion and improvement with the actions you made. Knowing how to say sorry in an email, your frank apologies will demonstrate how deeply you realize the level of the failure and justify your customer’s response to it. 

Present a plan of action

Having clearly understood the problem, now you should plan on how to solve it. These measures should include the ones aimed at further resolving a hard situation. Moreover, you must share this knowledge with your clients, compiling apology business letters. Transparency in this matter will help to build a trusting atmosphere in the relations with your customers. In addition, you demonstrate your constant awareness of what is happening and that you are open to take the necessary actions at any time. It is also worth noting that you have learned from your mistakes and will do your best to avoid them in future. And to solve urgent issues, you have an effective action plan. Finally, try to make it clear to your customers that mistakes are sometimes beneficial. The lessons learned from them can improve business processes. And improved business processes, in turn, provide a result that suits everyone.

Ask for forgiveness

Demonstration of your vulnerability as a person is of great importance for the success of your business. It looks more humane in the eyes of customers. This approach makes them treat you naturally. Emphasize the fact that you are truly sincere about customers by asking them for forgiveness for doing the wrong thing. However, do not be too zealous, because the stuffed apologies in email can lead to even more trouble. Many customers will decide that you have absolutely no backbone and will want to take advantage of the situation. Complaints, requests for compensation for allegedly caused losses, doubts and distrust are far from all the consequences of an excessive apology. So feel the sense of proportion. In addition, sometimes customers themselves cross the line and behave obscene and even vile. In this case, knowing how to say sorry in a business email, it is worth apologizing only to the employees that they had to spend time and effort on such clients.

Don’t take it personally

When some customers complain, this may sound emotional and even offensive. But, please, do not take it to your heart. Mistakes and negative reactions of customers to them make an integral part of any business. All you can do in this case is not turn your mistakes into a habit. But if this happens, keep an apologize formal email ready. This way, you can minimize the damage, while maintaining a relationship of trust with customers.  


Using all of the above tools, now you know exactly how to apologize professionally in an email sample:


  1. We admit the mistake: “Hello Bill Jones, Recently you made a purchase from us. You bought the NS34Q model color laser printer. A week later we received a complaint from you that the equipment stopped working. We would like to make it up for you so that you remain our customer hereafter “.
  2. We talk about the consequences: “We assume that you purchased a printer for efficient operation, since this model is rarely purchased for home use. It is likely that due to a malfunction of our equipment you could have inconvenience and delays in performing work tasks ”.
  3. We explain the reasons: “After you contacted us, we tested several other printer models of this manufacturer. During testing, it turned out that they also have malfunctions. Therefore, we came to the conclusion that it is all a matter of factory marriage. ”
  4. We inform you about the measures taken: “Our management reported the problem to the printer manufacturer by sending them an official letter. The manufacturer assured us that they were ready to replace all faulty models. At the same time, we made inquiries and contacted other customers who had previously purchased printers of this brand. It turned out that several more printers are malfunctioning. We invited customers to come to our store to exchange printers for models of other brands with similar specifications and pricing. And we did it absolutely free of charge. ”
  5. Making up for the mistake: “Bill Jones, we are very sorry that such an incident took place. We would like to make amends, so our offer is as follows: please, come to our store and we will exchange the printer for a working model or refund your money for the purchase. Namely, $628. Would you consider this option? If none of the solutions offered suits you, we are always here to listen to your suggestions on how we can make it up for you. ”
  6. Call for action: “Would you be so kind as to give your feedback in any convenient way and indicate which option suits you the most. If due to your work schedule you can’t come to our store, I can come to your office at any convenient time with a new printer or money. Either option you accept. Or just call the number: +1 855-766-3131. Once again, I sincerely apologize for this situation, I will be glad to answer your questions and make an appointment. Thank you, Head of Sales Sam Jenkins.


Further, we would like to have a look at a few more examples of apologies in email. To make sure your “Sorry” sounds really convincing and has a positive effect. 

Provide clients with customer feedback

If you are really interested in how to apologize in an email, then your answer is to provide customers with a communication channel where they can share their thoughts. Thus, you not only maintain relations with your customer, even if you offended him or her somehow. You also give your relations a second chance by developing them. The communication channel acts as a kind of signal for customers that you care about them, that their opinion matters and it is important to you. In this way, you demonstrate that you strive to improve business processes, gain more experience for the further development and improvement of customer service and products / services in general.

To be aware of the thoughts, desires, needs and moods of your customers, use the survey function. This seemingly insignificant tool is able to answer many of your questions. In addition, questionnaires increase the engagement of your audience. And this consequently affects many of the targeted conversions that are important for your business.


Apology Letter Samples: 7 Cases

Examples of apologizing can show you the right direction in creating your own variants. You already have a basic structure that shown in the previous paragraph. Now you can see ready-made letters that can also be used as templates with minor changes if your situation matches the case.

Apologizing for Bad Client Treatment

Sadly, but there may be cases of rudeness, incompetent support managers, and inappropriate behavior of the company representatives in your practice. Prepare for this by learning how to apologize to a customer by email from the following example:

Dear Peter,

I want to express my sincere apology on behalf of [Company Name] for the mistreatment you have experienced recently while dealing with our support manager Sam.

I admit that Sam was not able to help you with your problem and did not direct you to the right person. I understand how frustrated and left out you might feel in that moment when he hung up without any explanations so you had to call us and be on hold again. According to our policy, we have to provide the high quality of service and we want you to know that we are sorry for not meeting those requirements.

We have already set a few meetings with our representatives to remind them of their duties and algorithm of activities in similar cases. We will take drastic measures to prevent such a poor treatment in the future. We also plan to test the work of all our support managers in order to detect other mistakes in their work.

Please, mind this information. We are constantly working on the improvement of our service so your feedback will be really helpful. Also, feel free to contact us in case of other issues.

Kind regards,

[Full signature]

Apologizing for Problems with Shipping

You may or may not be responsible for problems with shipment. There are factors that you can control like the information about the availability of the product or the proper packing. Also, there are factors that over your control like weather conditions. Anyway, in case of problems you have to write an email to say sorry.

Dear Denice,

We are terribly sorry that you still did not get your [Item] that you ordered last week.

The thing is we did not expect such demand on this item, so we ran out of it before we were able to change the availability status on the website. But the next bringing of [Item] will be on Monday that will help to cover all the orders.

We know you are our loyal client and expected the usual high level of service from our company. That is why we feel even more regretful that you have experienced such an unpleasant situation.

You can inform us in case you want to cancel your order. Otherwise, your [Item] will be shipped to you as soon as it is available. You can track the availability status on our website. Once more, please, accept our sincerest apologies.

Ben C.

Customer Service Representative

Email to a Customer Apologizing for a Product or Service Being Damaged

It is a known fact that it is much easier and cheaper to keep the existing customer that to search and attract the new one. That is why you need to reach fast on cases of defective or damaged products or the low level of service.

Dear David,

Thank you for informing us about the defective [Product]. We are sincerely sorry that the item did not meet the expectations and did not provide the promised functions. We understand that you are disappointed and we truly sorry you have faced such inconvenience.

We have set the process of quality check for all our items as it is in our interest to sell the high-quality products. And we regret we missed your order during this quality check.

We have already sent you the new [Product] and we made sure that the item is working properly. You will get the parcel within 5 working days. Please, return us the defective [product] after that.

We understand that you had plans for the ordered item, so to brighten up the process of waiting for the replacing object we give you $10 coupon off for your next order and hope there will be no any similar problems.

Thank you for your time and understanding. In case of any other issues considering our service, feel free to contact us in the future.

Jane P.,

Customer Service Representative

Apologizing for Issues with Bills

Unfortunately, this is a common problem in the world of online sales. To the customer, it is frustrating and even frightening as there is their money involved. However, you must write an email to apologize to the customer for such a situation as soon as possible and fix it immediately.

Dear Anna,

Thank you for your message to the customer service department. We apologize for the fact that you have been charged twice for the same purchase. We completely accept all the responsibility and are on our way to fixing the problem.

We have made an investigation and found out that the computer glitch has taken place in our billing system. In order to prevent this in the future, we are working on updates for the system that will be implemented very soon. Also, we will provide a refund of the charge that was mistaken. You can expect the money back within 1-3 working days.

We hope you will be satisfied with such a solution and attempt to compensate for the inconvenience you had. Also, we want to thank you again for your inquiry that helped us to identify the problem and fix it to make our service better.

Feel free to write to us in case of any other possible issues connected with dealing with our company.

Kind regards,

Dave G.,

Customer Service Representative

Apologizing for Cancelation of a Service or Meeting

As with delays and recalls, problems with cancelation can happen due to the controllable and non-controllable factors. But as in previous cases, in an apologizing business email, you need to take into consideration the inconvenience that customer may experience in this situation.

Dear Jack,

I sincerely apologize for canceling the meeting [a more detailed description of the event] because of dangerous weather conditions that are in the forecast now.

Due to the hurricane and rain, we will not have an opportunity to follow the schedule of our meeting. Moreover, it can be unsafe to drive or fly to the event and after it. We care about the safety of our guests as this is the main priority.

We hope we will have a chance to change the time of the event and we will notify you of the new date. For now, you will get a full refund that will be delivered to your bank account within 3 working days.

We appreciate your interest in our events. Please, follow the link and check other upcoming events that might be interesting to you.

Kind regards,

James Wan

Event Manager

Apologizing for Recalling the Product

This is the second common case when the apologizing letter will be needed. No matter how big or expensive the recalled product is, you have to consider and remember customers’ feelings. Here are other apologies for email to customer sample:

Dear customer,

Here in [Company’s Name], we work hard on providing only the high-quality products. Our priority is to supply our customers with [type of product] they deserve and expect from us. That is why we are sad to report that we have failed in this when preparing the last series of [product].

We have discovered that they [describe the detailed reason why you need to recall it]. Usually, we test our products thoroughly, so we are in a deep regret we have failed in this case.

This letter is aimed at informing our customers about the danger of [using/consuming] the [product]. If you still have it, please return it to us and get a full refund:

[Company or Production Address]

We are terribly sorry that you have put yourself in danger by buying the item from this series. That is why our company has taken drastic measures to improve the quality testing process. We will put all our efforts to meet your expectations next time.


Peter Cube

President and CEO

Apology for a Group of Customers

Any of the described situations can have singular or mass character, so you need to keep in mind when you are writing a personal (or personified) email or the message to all your clients. It may sound terrifying realizing that you have let down many people at once. But you need to take all your courage and face the need to deliver apologize email for the mistake.

Dear customers,

We in [Company Name] want to say sorry for the yesterday problems with our website. We understand that many of you could not conduct their business and make purchases using our resource due to technical issues.

Now the problem is solved and we have hired a group of web-developers to check our website on any other possible issues. Such measures will help to prevent such problems in the future.

We appreciate your understanding and are ready to take all the blame. If you have faced a serious problem because of the site’s unavailability, please contact us freely to negotiate about compensation. For now, all the customers will get a 20$ discount on the next purchase.


Annie Hope

Equipment Sales Manager

The Importance of apologize for email in Business Communication

Sure thing, apologizing bring not too much fun. However, we cannot underestimate the importance of such an approach in the setting of business relationships with customers. Knowing how to say sorry in email properly will help you in protecting your reputation despite the fact you make mistakes sometimes. After all, this is a common courtesy that every well-behaved person should follow.

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