How to Write a Business Apology Letter to a Customer
Businesses often send out letters to customers every day. Sometimes these letters are good, but sometimes they are in the form of an apology. With businesses dealing with continual customers and protocols not being taken to guarantee customer satisfaction by all employees, there will be times when an apology letter is essential. In fact, as the saying goes, “The customer is always right.”
Start with an Apology
A letter must start with an apology. This is done to immediately grasp the reader’s attention and start to address the issue immediately. Common phrases seen at the start of an apology letter include:
• I apologize
• I regret
• I am sorry
The first person should be used with “we” being appropriate for businesses that have many employees. If another employee was involved and not the person writing the letter, “we” can be used.
Summarize the Events
The reader will want to know the events that have transpired and what the apology writer understands as to what transpired. It is essential to be neutral during the summarization and get straight to the point. In no part of the letter should the client be addressed in a negative tone. This is a letter to ensure that customer satisfaction is high and that the customer is apologized to. Rather, summarize the events briefly so that everyone is on the same page as to the transpired events.
Sincerity is essential and the customer will want to know that the letter has been written in a sincere manner. This is difficult for some to do, but it can be easy if the person has a few key points to follow along the way.
1. Stay on point: Never divert from the apology or attempt to justify the actions that have taken place.
2. Blame: Never put the blame on the customer.
3. But, However: The words, “but” or “however” must never be used. This is a way of showing justification for what has transpired and will be transference of blame.
Take Full Responsibility
Responsibility has to be taken by the business. If a customer feels as if the business is not taking responsibility, they will not accept the apology. This may be difficult to address, especially when the customer may have been in the wrong. However, it is important to reprimand employees because the only control a business has is their own actions. Customers may be irate at times, but taking responsibility for escalating matters is essential. This is the essence of an apology letter and has to be adhered to exactly.
Offer Something for Free
Remediation will need to be offered to show just how sorry the business is for the events that have occurred. There are a plethora of different remedies that can be offered and this will vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the events and business. However, a common remedy will be a simple discount. Customers love saving money and a discount may just be the best option to offer. If possible, a free item will also do the trick. Many restaurants will offer a free entrée or a pizzeria will offer a free pizza pie as a remedy. Do everything in your power to offer the customer an amazing remedy to ensure that they remain longtime customers and accept the apology.
Ask for Forgiveness
An apology letter is not complete until the customer has forgiven the business. While a customer may not reply to an apology, it is always essential to ask for forgiveness. This will include the writer asking the customer to forgive the business for the events and may be followed by what steps are being taken by the business to ensure that this is never a repeat occurrence.
Define an Internal Solution
Customers need to know that an apology letter is sincere and there is no better way to ensure that than with a solution. This is also dependent on what has occurred, but it will be of the utmost importance. For example, if an employee did not follow protocol or was rude, the following solution may be offered:
“Our staff member has been reprimanded and is now on internal probation. We will be continually monitoring their actions and will ensure that these events never happen to another customer. We thank you for bringing awareness to their actions and as a company, do not condone this type of behavior from our employees.”
This is a fine example that may be written to satisfy the concerns of a customer. However, these actions need to be taken as well. If an employee is the cause for a disturbance, there has to be some accountability taken by the business to ensure that this behavior never happens again.
A carefully crafted apology letter can be sent to customers for a variety of reasons. Perhaps an ordered item is out of stock or an unpleasant event occurred. In either case, when an apology letter is written, it is an opportunity to correct the business’ errors and maintain a customer that may have been lost.