A PwC study discovered that 73% of consumers consider customer service experiences more important in purchasing decisions than price or product features. And it's not a surprise because people are always more likely to connect on an emotional level (which means overall impression from exceptional service) than a rational one (which means prices and profit). However, no one is insured from making mistakes.
In this article, you will get:
tips on how to apologize professionally;
ideas on how to turn a human error into a mutually beneficial partnership;
12 best apology email samples.
Tips on how to write an apology email to customers
Of course, there are various situations, but in general, you may divide apology emails into two main categories:
When upset clients reach out to you.
When you reach out to clients.
(Source: Email from Boden)
1. When upset clients reach out to you.
respond as soon as possible
If your customer is unsatisfied, you don't want to irritate them even more. Even if you can't deal with the problem immediately or it can't be solved immediately, at least let them know you're working on it.
On the other hand, maybe the problem is not as bad as your clients think. In this case, you should give a prompt response. Your customers will feel the invaluable support, and their loyalty will only increase.
always notify the customer/client you have received the email
People are very impatient, especially when it comes to solving problems. They always need you to make it up within seconds. And if you don't, they will find another provider.
To avoid misunderstandings, let your customers know that you have received their complaints and will get back to them soon with further details.
In the meantime, your marketing team should start writing a heartfelt apology on behalf of your company name.
explain the root of the problem
There's always a reason for any problem, and the client has every right to know it. In case of poor service, avoid blaming others — most people will be understanding if you take full responsibility for whatever happened.
(Source: Email from Monica Vinader)
If there's an entire story about the inconvenience, you can write a separate blog post about it. Try to make it fun and entertaining for a better customer experience while reassuring your audience that you've learned a valuable lesson. Of course, make sure you won't repeat the same mistake.
It doesn't matter if the mistake is on your side or it's because of a shipping company; if it's purely technical or caused by a natural disaster — apologize sincerely. It's you who are responsible for the final result.
The best option here is a personal apology. You may consult with your community manager to find a perfect solution. Even if you create a mass apology email, add some personal touch to it, and you will discover that mistakes can also lead to the next purchase!
make the subject line clear
Every email starts with a subject line. Use this space to clarify why you are texting the client. It's your only chance to reach out to your customer directly before they delete the email.
You don't need to be creative, but clear and precise. "We're working on your issue," "Response to your request," or even "RE: Your order late delivery" will work just fine.
Consider plain text emails
Although in a modern world, we use plain text emails only while messaging with colleagues at work, you should consider this format when you write an apology email.
Especially if the issue is the case of an emergency and requires an immediate reply.
Note: this tip doesn't work regarding an apology email you initiated — a beautiful design here will be considered as care and respect.
2. When you reach out to clients.
In the corporate world, you should always maintain your brand reputation. And it's essential to warn your audience about any possible, obvious inconvenience; there's no doubt.
However, before you launch your apology email campaign, you need to start the testing process to take into account: the impact on the customer experience; how many people weren't able to achieve the customer's goals; how you are going to solve the problem (or what have you already done).
From our experience, if a company effectively apologizes, it doesn't just keep existing clients satisfied but also proves to other people it provides the best service because word of mouth works.
One apology email template can make a difference. Let's see what you should consider:
Website outage — notify you are aware of the problem
The best decision is to send the email as soon as you can.
First, assure the customers that the issue isn't on their end. Second, you let them know that you're in the process of fixing it. Ideally, you may mention how much time it will take (at least approximately) so that your clients can update their plans.
This apology email should also promise to inform the users when the problem is solved.
The website outage — notification everything works well again
Once you solve the problem, you should inform your users immediately. However, at this point, you should prepare a well-designed apology letter.
This email is also a great opportunity to sincerely apologize and offer a discount or other bonuses to express your gratitude for their patience.
The website maintenance — inform clients about the dates and the exact time
If you do website maintenance, your users may experience some difficulties with access. To prevent them from failing a critical meeting or missing a scheduled appointment, inform the customers about your plans beforehand.
The best time for such activity is at night when most of your clients sleep. But it would help if you informed them anyway. Send an apology email a few days before Day X and mention the exact maintenance time.
Also, place a notification banner on your website and give your customer service team instructions on how to work with customer complaints in this case.
After you update the website, send your users a brief reminder — they will see good news from you first thing tomorrow morning and might be willing to try it out.
An event-triggered email sent many times — Take some time before you apologize
Imagine you mistakenly sent a few similar emails instead of one within a short time. In that case, waiting before you write an apology email is better to prevent your customers from triggering again. Otherwise, they might delete all of your emails and not even get a chance to read your most sincere apologies.
(Source: Email from World Market)
Of course, in such situations, you always need to fix the problem first and then send the apology message out.
An issue with the discount — provide a bigger one
Marketing teams work hard to create the best email templates for effective promotional campaigns. However, it happens that, due to some technical issues, the discounts don't apply or something else goes wrong, and the customers have to pay the total price. Such an obvious inconvenience requires a business apology.
Don't hurry, and do your best to prepare a beautiful, professional apology email to convince your clients not to lose loyalty to your brand. Reassure them you are aware of the problem and that you've done your best to prevent the same issues in the future.
Express your understanding of the inconvenience the issue might have brought to your customers and suggest making it up to them by providing another discount (which will now apply) in your apology letter.
(Source: Chimp Essentials)
Subscribers did not receive event-triggered emails — offer free shipping
You've probably experienced the situation when you register on a website, and to start using the service, you have to wait for a subscription confirmation. And you keep waiting, updating your inbox, until you finally realize nothing will appear there.
In such cases, the prospects will more likely visit another website. But your task is to deal with their negative impression after using yours.
Even if you cannot fix the problem immediately and can't make a client stay, offer them a discount or free shipping to encourage them to consider your brand while making future purchases.
(Source: Email from Moosejaw)
This is a perfect example of an apology email — the girl looks shy, the design is simple, and the copy is clear!
no matter what exactly happened — Be sincere in your apology email
Even if you provide 70% discounts, sometimes it's only a sincere apology which will make things better for your customers. You can come up with something creative yet genuine.
Experiment with various options that will fit your brand's tone of voice. It can be anything: from "Oops, our bad" to "Please, accept our sincere apologies."
(Source: Urban Outfitters)
Make sure your subject line mirrors the email content
The subject line is always a key to your success in email marketing. Make it clear to your customers why you are sending the apology email. However, you don't need to be very serious — feel free to build your communication according to your brand's style.
Here are a few creative examples:
We're sorry — Boots.
We're sorry_Topshop has been misbehaving, and we want to apologize — Topshop.
Whoops, we hit the wrong button — Pet Supplies Plus.
Meow. Our goof is your gain. Additional 10% off today only — Fab.
Sorry, we've slipped up — MyOffers.co.uk.
When things go wrong — sorry! — Forever21.
For more information on how to create powerful subject lines, please refer to our dedicated blog post.
You might also like10 Tips for Writing the Most Powerful Subject Lines for Emails [Examples Included]
Work on your signature
A personal apology email always works better. That's why preparing an appropriate signature for your business apology message is essential.
You have two options to choose from: send an apology letter sample on behalf of the team member who made a mistake or on behalf of a CEO.
If the situation was critical, you may describe what happened in more detail and explain how you fixed it. You may also ask someone from the management team to apologize for the inconvenience personally.
Apology email examples
Let's look at a few best (in our humble opinion) apology letter samples for your better understanding and inspiration for future campaigns.
Example 1. Dorothy Perkins — Offer that is no longer valid
As we mentioned before, writing an apology email is no rocket science, and you don't need to reinvent the wheel to say you're sorry.
Email marketers of Dorothy Perkins just got straight to business — explained what happened and offered a discount to buy whatever you like within a day.
That's a perfect way to notify subscribers about the mistake.
Example 2. Electros — New alternative
This is a straightforward yet great example of how you can apologize and sell something at the same time.
(Source: Stripo template)
There's nothing extra in the apology email template: they only encourage the customers to consider other options or download the application for a better experience (and they also provide a bonus for the app users!)
Example 3. Forever21 — Website low-speed
Forever21 did a great job with this apology email.
The email perfectly fits their style. The design is attractive, yet it didn't take plenty of time to create. And there's all the information needed for the customer.
Example 4. Webinar education — Postponed event
You receive all the essential information immediately in this kind of apology email. And there's also a disclaimer: if you aren't able to attend the webinar the other day, they will give you the money back.
(Source: Stripo template)
Example 5. Graham and Green — a technical glitch
Although the apology email may look too much, it fits the situation. Many tools help a client understand the problem, and bright pink connects us with the brand.
Also, I cannot omit the fonts because they are pretty different; they still match perfectly with the brand fonts.
It is a brilliant sample of an apology email.
Example 6. Study — Accept an apology
Even if you didn't bring a massive inconvenience to your customers, a nice apology email wouldn't ever be extra. And you won't lose anything if you provide a symbolic discount to show your appreciation to the subscribers.
(Source: Stripo template)
Such apology email templates will help maintain your clients' loyalty and invite them to make further purchases.
Example 7. Boden — inappropriate print
This particular email was for April Fool's Day, but it might happen that a brand will have to withdraw its products. And this email is a great example.
In such cases, you need to explain the reason for what happened and give customers details on how they can give the products back to you and get their money back.
Don't forget to provide the contact information of your customer support team that will help answer all the questions.
Example 8. Creative — We're working on it
An apology email is a perfect time to collect customer feedback. The best way to do this is to insert a feedback form into the email.
Also, don't forget to express your sincerest apologies for the inconvenience and gratitude for the time dedicated to helping your brand become better.
(Source: Stripo template)
Example 9. Not on the high street — no messages
We don't know about you, but we would forgive all the mistakes just to read such cute messages every once in a while.
A beautiful design, a cute copy, and a discount — what else do you need to make a client happy?
Example 10. Electron — Sorry for the mishap
We adore the design of this apology email template! There's a bright photo to draw your attention. Also, the text is so friendly that you can't help but click the "Shop now" button to use their offer.
(Source: Stripo template)
Another great thing about this template is the FAQ section, which helps you immediately clear all the potential concerns.
Example 11. Pet supply — incorrect information
Email marketers work on a few emails simultaneously and may make mistakes. But a nice apology email can make it up to your customers. Here's a good example.
You can see how a simple "Oops, our bad" can immediately cover all the previous negative impressions. And there you are, scrolling the website and choosing hoodies for your dog.
Example 12. Pet shop — Whoops!
Less is more, and it's always true.
(Source: Stripo template)
Spare yourself from spending plenty of time creating weird designs and writing complex messages when all you need is to show your customers that you care.
After reading this article, you could've probably been persuaded that a nice apology email can be an effective promotional campaign and highly increase the level of loyalty to your brand.
However, it doesn't mean you have to make mistakes on purpose or make the same mistakes again and again. Remember that even after apologies, the customers still might get angry with you from time to time, and the price of your failures will also increase every time.
Now, let's remind ourselves of the critical things to consider before writing an apology email:
be sincere and write from the heart of your brand;
take responsibility for your mistakes;
respond as soon as you can, even if you can only notify the customer about receiving their complaint;
work on the design of the emails initiated by your company, but don't do too much;
remember that a personal stance can make a difference;
take your chance to collect feedback from your clients and use it to improve the service;
don't hesitate to give some extra discounts;
add announcements to your website if necessary.
We believe you know well what you should do with your campaigns and what your customers value in your brand. However, we're always there for you to help.