In the business world, there are times when things will go wrong and you will need to apologize and make amends.
Whether you are it’s with respect to a disagreement you had with a customer, a late delivery of a customer’s order, or your lateness to a meeting with your stakeholders, writing an apology letter is good for the soul. It clears the air and allows you and the recipient to move on and let go of hard feelings.
Don’t ever fall into the trap of refusing to apologize. Even if you are cocksure you have done nothing wrong, apologize for the part you played in the misunderstanding or for not being able to respond more effectively.
Writing an apology is even more necessary when a customer is involved. In that case, you must write it from the perspective of “customers are always right.” Why? The reason is because losing a customer can be very costly. And a single dissatisfied customer can discourage several other potential customers from doing business with you.
So, as a business owner or professional, you must be able to write effective business apology letters that encourage the recipient to forgive the mistake and get back on good terms with the business you represent. Here are some guidelines for writing a business apology letter.
How to Write a Business Apology Letter – Sample Template
1. Address the right person-: If you are writing your apology letter to a specific individual (such as a disappointed client), you must address him or her by title and last name–for example, “Dear Mrs. Edwards.” However, if you are sending the letter to a business, then address it to the individual in charge of receiving such letters. If you don’t know the name of the individual, find out and include it in your letter.
An apology letter is most effective when the recipient knows that it was sent to him or her specifically. At all cost, avoid impersonal and overused greetings like, “Dear Sir” or “To whom it may concern.” Such greetings send signals that your letter is another “ordinary” letter.
2 State why you are writing the letter-: Start your letter by stating what it’s all about. That is, let the recipient know that the letter is an apology. This will prepare them emotionally for every word that comes after. You don’t want to leave them guessing or confused about why you are writing or what you are going to say.
Start your letter with a direct, simple statement like, “I sincerely apologize for…” or “I hereby write this letter to apologize sincerely for…” Don’t beat about the bush. And don’t start by narrating what happened. Starting your letter with an apology statement makes the reader calm and receptive to your apology.
3. State your mistake-: After stating that you are apologizing, state what you are apologizing for. There are times when the recipient might have forgotten about what happened. So, never leave out this part on assumption that the recipient will still remember.
When stating your mistake, be exact and clear. This will make convince the recipient that you really understand what you did. Write something like:
“What happened last week was quite unprofessional. As the customer, you had the right to choose any color you liked when buying items available in multiple colors. By sending you a black smartphone instead of the white one you ordered, we deprived you of this freedom, and that was wrong. And turning down your request to change the device to one of your desired color was one of the worst wrongs we have ever done to a customer. And we deeply regret it. “
4. Acknowledge how much you have hurt them-: After stating your mistake, acknowledge how much it hurt the recipient. This is a good opportunity for you to mention that you never intended to hurt them—not to absolve yourself of blame or give flimsy excuses, though.
Write something like:
“We later learned that your son whom you ordered the smartphone as a birthday gift for preferred white because that’s his favorite color, but we ended up compelling him to settle for what he didn’t really like. We hope you understand that it was never our intention. We wanted you to look back on this time and remember only happy things, but we ruined that with our carelessness and unprofessional attitude.
5. Accept responsibility-: This is one of the hardest parts of an apology, but the most important. Even the recipient also has some faults, you will have to assume they were faultless. Just admit your mistake openly and without any reservations. Even if you have some excuses for your actions, that shouldn’t keep you from admitting that those actions of yours really hurt the recipient.
A simple statement like, “We absolutely take responsibility for our unprofessional attitude and the terrible pain we have caused you” would be fine.
6. Offer a solution to make amends-: Just saying that you are sorry isn’t enough. What really makes your apology effective is finding a way to solve the problem in the future.
If the mistake is something that can be corrected, such as a wrong or defective order, offer to correct it immediately at no extra cost to the recipient. But if it cannot be corrected, assure the recipient of your renewed commitment to avoid such mistakes in the future and your plans to achieve that. This is better than just saying, “We promise that it such will never happen again.”
7. State your desire to continue the relationship-: An apology is not just meant to seek the recipient’s forgiveness; it’s ultimately meant to mend the fault in your relationship with them and keep the relationship going smoothly once again. It is better to express what you really want, such as a continued business relationship. After writing the body of your business apology letter, round it up appropriately and send it to the recipient.