If Something Went Wrong: How to Write an Apology Letter to Your Client
Articles for Growth
By: Leamon Crooms
In an ideal world, you would never make mistakes that could have a negative impact on your relationship with clients. However, even the most experienced business professionals are human and will do things wrong at times. Writing an apology letter is the best course of action if you make a mistake, especially one that could threaten an established client relationship. Here’s how to write an apology letter to your client that communicates your sincerity and desire to have another chance.
What is an Apology Letter, and Why Should You Write One?
An apology letter sounds pretty self-explanatory on the surface. You made a mistake and want to acknowledge that to the client in writing. However, human nature being what it is, apology letters can be tough to write. Admitting wrongdoing takes humility and the ability to take ownership of mistakes.
Apology letters can take many forms, with the most common one today being email. If that’s not your style, you have a few other options, including mailing a letter, using video messaging, or picking up the telephone to express your thoughts. The length of your apology letter should correspond to the degree to which your mistake impacted the client. Remember that your apology should feel personal, even if it goes out to more than one client.
Consider Your Client’s Point of View Before Putting Your Apology in Writing
You may not immediately understand why a client is upset, and you never will if you only consider how the situation affects you. Looking at the situation from your client’s perspective requires reflection and empathy. Without proper consideration of the situation, your apology can come across as self-centered or insincere.
For most people, feeling validated is an essential aspect of a positive interaction with a business. They want to feel like someone has taken the time to truly listen to their concerns. You might be surprised by how much a simple statement like “I understand how frustrated you must feel” can help reduce tension in a situation.
Describe How the Mistake Happened without Making Excuses
Most clients appreciate a concise explanation of what went wrong. While you do not need to share every detail, clients can tell when you try to protect someone or hide something. Transparency is always the best policy when it comes to rebuilding trust. Your apology letter should address every concern the client has raised without downplaying them or pointing fingers at someone else.
Offer a Solution, Including What You Will Do Differently Next Time
Knowing that you have heard their complaints and taken responsibility for contributing to their distress is only the first step in a good apology. The apology letter quickly becomes meaningless if your company does not follow through on making the situation right. For example, assume that your employee made a mistake that cost your client time or money. You could offer to repay the financial loss or provide a discount on their next purchase as an act of goodwill.
Sometimes, clients become upset over issues that represent a more significant problem within a business that you cannot fix right away. In this situation, the best thing to do is to let your client know you are aware of the problem. You can outline what you plan to do to address it and then follow up with the client once your company has implemented changes. One common example is when a client receives poor customer service due to staffing or training issues.
The #1 Rule of How to Write an Apology Letter to Your Client
Each of the tips we have shared above is important. Even so, we recommend that you do not start writing an apology letter to a client until you are in the right frame of mind. You may feel hurt, angry, or defensive if you write the letter too soon after the incident. Your feelings are bound to come across and not leave the client with the impression you hoped for in this case. Be sure to take the time to calm down and collect your thoughts before you start composing an apology letter.
You also do not want to wait too long after an incident that upsets a client before you acknowledge it and offer an apology. Ideally, you should send the letter within a few days. This timing is ideal to avoid a scenario of having the client assume you do not care about them and becoming even more upset.
You Take Care of Your Clients While We Take Care of You
You have a lot on your plate managing a business while keeping both clients and employees happy. When you have little time for marketing but know it is important, Strategic Growth Advisors is here to help. Please get in touch with us to request a consultation where you will learn about each of our marketing services in greater detail.