Business apology email: Apologise; don’t whimper!

by Dorcas Addo

It’s highly important for your image, as well as that of the business or brand you represent, to promptly acknowledge and apologise for errors, delays or whatever may have gone wrong.

It lessens the impact of the inconvenience, saves the business relationship and increases the chances that your clients will continue to do business with you.

However, inasmuch as sending an apology is important, sending just any kind of apologies could aggravate the situation. Be mindful of the apology you email to others.

Here are a few tips to help you email the appropriate apology and win the hearts and trust of your clients to ensure that they continue to do business with you.

1. Your subject line should clearly state what you’re apologising for

In your subject line, specifically state the error or problem for which you’re sending the email. This is because your whole effort of apologising hinges on the subject line: it does not only capture the recipient’s attention but could also be your only shot of connecting with an aggrieved customer or client. For instance ‘Apology for Shipping Wrong Product’, ‘Apology for Missing Deadline’ etc. are just apt because they summarise their respective situations.

2. Offer an explanation

If you have a very tangible reason for the error, then go ahead and offer it. The client could empathise with you from that angle. Offering an explanation also means that you took the pain of investigating what went wrong and are ready and willing to rectify the anomaly.

However, if you do not have any ‘pardonable’ reason for the error, do not attempt to offer one. It could blow the situation up and get it out of hand.

3. Outline specific action(s) to solve the challenge

Let the client know that steps are being taken to undo the error. What is the point in apologising to a client for, for instance, overcharging her credit card if you are doing nothing to refund her money to her.

Give your clients the assurance that you are actually working to resolve the challenge, and make sure you do so.

4. Do not whimper all over the email

There’s the tendency to keep apologising over and over again in every paragraph of the apology email. “We sincerely apologise for sending you defective products. We regret any inconvenience caused, and assure you that we are working on replacing the products by the end of the day at no cost to you.

“Once again sorry for the unfortunate incident, and we promise it will never happen agian.”

This sounds very ‘schoolish’ and unprofessional. Apologisng in every paragraph is a turn-off. Apologise in the first line or two and continue with reason(s) for the error and what is being done; that’s more than enough.

5. ‘Additionals’

Before signing off, you can tell your client any other relevant thing related to the apology. Examples of such are ‘looking forward to better business relationships’, ‘your availability in case of any further clarification’, ‘assurance that steps have been taken to prevent the error from recurring in future’, etc.

Sign off, and don’t forget to add your designation and contacts.

Do remember while typing your business apology emails that although you must apologise, you must in no circumstance exaggerate emotions in the email. It does more harm than good to the already bad situation.