Apologizing well to customers can be tricky. Sound insincere and the apology might as well have said "We don't care about you, go check out our competitors." Show that you really care and that you're doing what you can to make it right, and you can increase customer loyalty from a bad experience. So it's definitely worth getting the apology right, and the templates and examples below will help you do just that.
Help Scout's article, 47 Pro Tips on How to Talk to Customers, includes some great general guidelines for apologies:
To get more details and some examples for those guidelines, check out the article.
In Business Apology Email Example: A Customer Service Template to Restore Loyalty, Groove put together a great template for sending an apology email to customers with a break down of how to use it:
An apology from [your business name]
Business apology template
Hi [first name],
As you may already know, [insert problem and time period]. [Briefly explain expected outcome and actual outcome.]
It is completely unacceptable for [reiterate problem]. I’ve heard from customers who [three examples of how the problem affected your customers]; you depend on us to [goal of your product] and we hindered more than helped yesterday.
I want to apologize for the [problem] and, more importantly, I must apologize for the total failure to communicate this to you.
One of our company’s values is [core value or company mission] and we glaringly missed the mark yesterday. We are taking this incident very seriously and are making plans to ensure that it will never happen again.
To thank you for your patience, we will be giving [discount, coupon code, free item, etc. and time frame to use it]. And [something you’ve already done to make up for the problem: reimbursement, refund, etc].
If there is anything else our team can do to improve your experience, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email and ask!
[Your first name]
For more specific scenarios you're apologizing for, check out these templates and examples to write up a great response.
The Customer Support Handbook has some amazing examples for writing apologies, especially for customers who've had a bad experience. Language is critical in writing a sincere apology and this book slays in the language department.
Short Sample Replies
Long Sample Apology
I just wanted to take a moment and apologize for what happened during your call to our support team today. The level of support we offer and the personal connections we make with our travelers is something we take great pride in here. After reviewing your experience, it's clear that we missed the mark when working with you today. We were able to assist the Riviera to get your booking into their system, but it took some time and we have yet to offer you a heart-felt apology. We know we can do better. I can say this confidently because 9 times out of 10, we do. So, on behalf of my team, I'm truly sorry.
That said, there's always room to improve our service and that's something that our team is working on every day. I'd love the chance to connect with you to chat about your experience both with HT and as a professional. Tonight and any time, please feel free to reach out to me directly."
There are 5 fantastic examples of companies apologizing for mistakes they made in the article, Writing an Effective Apology Letter to Customers [+ 5 Examples], from Help Scout. The examples are for completely different mistakes from companies in completely different industries. So you'll get some great ideas for writing your own apology emails.
Unfortunately, being hacked has become more common for companies that are constantly targeted by cyber villains trying to access their customers' sensitive data or generally trying to cause chaos. There is a lot to deal with when being hacked, still, great communication and an apology done right can help prevent a huge loss of customers. Here's a fantastic example from The Customer Support Handbook from the CEO of Buffer:
Hi there, I wanted to get in touch to apologize for the awful experience we've caused many of you on your weekend. Buffer was hacked around 1 hour ago, and many of you may have experienced spam posts sent from you via Buffer. I can only understand how angry and disappointed you must be right now. Not everyone who has signed up for Buffer has been affected, but you may want to check on your accounts. We're working hard to fix this problem right now and we're expecting to have every thing back to normal shortly. We're posting continual updates on the Buffer Facebook page and the Buffer Twitter page to keep you in the loop on everything. The best steps for you to take right now and important information for you:
• Remove any postings from your Facebook page or Twitter page that look like spam
• Keep an eye on Buffer's Twitter page and Facebook page
• Your Buffer passwords are not affected
• No billing or payment information was affected or exposed
• All Facebook posts sent via Buffer have been temporarily hidden and will reappear once we've resolved this situation
I am incredibly sorry this has happened and affected you and your company. We're working around the clock right now to get this resolved and we'll continue to post updates on Facebook and Twitter. If you have any questions at all, please respond to this email. Understandably, a lot of people have emailed us, so we might take a short while to get back to everyone, but we will respond to every single email.
— Joel and the Buffer team