A business apology letter is a vital tool in your customer relations toolkit. Good relationships matter in business, and knowing how to say sorry when needed is an essential part of looking after those relationships. No one is perfect, and it’s inevitable that mistakes are made at times. When this happens, an effective apology can go a long way in repairing trust and mending a relationship. In fact, it can even enhance business relationships and improve a brand’s reputation when done right.
Thankfully, apologizing is a business skill that can be learned. In this article, we’ll look at the most important do’s and don’ts of writing a successful letter of apology.
The “Do’s” of writing a business apology letter
Empathize with the wronged party
The primary reason to make an apology is to mend a relationship, and putting empathy before the ego is a key element of crafting an effective business apology letter. Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes when writing one and show that you understand the harm that’s been caused by stating clearly what you’re apologizing for. Your letter should include both a summary of what went wrong and your acknowledgment that it has affected the recipient negatively. If the recipient feels that you’ve fully considered their point of view, they’re more likely to consider your apology genuine and accept it.
Explain what caused the issue
In addition to empathizing with the other party, you’ll also want to demonstrate in your letter that you’re actively learning from the experience. Explain briefly in your letter what caused the problem and summarize any steps you’re taking to resolve the issue and/or prevent a similar thing from happening again in the future. Showing that you’re committed to doing better has an important role in rebuilding trust.
Consider offering compensation
If you’re approaching a customer who’s had a disappointing experience, consider offering compensation when you apologize for the inconvenience they’ve suffered. When a goodwill gesture like this is done proactively and swiftly along with an authentic apology, it can completely transform a negative experience and may even turn an unhappy customer into a loyal brand ambassador. Considering that repeat customers on average generate 41% of revenue despite making up only 8% of the customer base, the cost of offering an incentive may be small compared to the potential gains.
Leave the door open for further discussion
When closing your letter of apology, encourage the recipient to approach you again if they want to discuss their experiences further now or in the future. This shows to the reader that you value their input and are serious about getting things right.
The “Don’ts” writing a business apology letter
Don’t try to shift the blame
One of the worst mistakes to make when writing an apology letter is to lay blame – even subtly – at somebody else’s door (including the reader’s). A genuine apology requires owning your mistakes, even if you’re only partly or indirectly responsible. Playing the “blame game” makes your brand/business seem petty and immature. Research shows that claiming responsibility for failures can in fact make you appear more in control and even have a positive effect on stock prices.
Don’t dilute your apology with ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’
Another effective way to ruin a letter of apology is to use words like ‘if’, ‘but’ and ‘however’. These words can significantly change the tone of an apology, and not for the better. While it may seem like you’re putting yourself in a better light by pointing out all the external factors you had no control over, this can backfire and make you appear disingenuous. It’s better to provide an honest evaluation of what you could have done differently rather than risk sounding like you’re hiding your shortcomings behind excuses.
Don’t bring up other matters in your letter
It’s best to focus only on the apology when you’re writing your letter. Bringing up any other matters not directly relevant to the situation at hand can be distracting and cause your apology to lose its effectiveness.
Don’t delay writing your apology
The longer you wait before you send an apology, the more scope there is for negative outcomes, such as customer churn. When it comes to negative reviews on social media, 88% of consumers avoid buying from companies that don’t address complaints. It becomes even more critical for a brand to issue a speedy apology if a negative review or news story is showing any signs of going viral on social media.
At The Birthday Company, we strive to be your “one-stop-shop” for all of your customer relations mailing needs. Use our thank you cards and thank your wronged customer for their understanding and patience. Along with a card send any of our quality gifts to add a touch of class to your apology.