Feeling uncomfortable is OKNow, before we start, we want you to remember that the desire to avoid apologizing is OK for humans. Admitting our mistakes usually feels very uncomfortable. Still, we all fail once in a while. And if we want to succeed in life, work, and relationships, we need to learn the art of apologizing. If we do so, people know that we care and we are responsible. It proves that we value them and can be trusted.
When to write an apology emailBefore you start writing your sorry email, ask yourself a question: “Was anyone affected or potentially offended by my actions/mistakes?” If the answer is “yes,” then you probably shouldn’t move on without an apology.
How to format an apology letter?The main thing in the apology email is humaneness. It is crucial to show that you care and want to fix the situation. Now, let’s have a closer look at the anatomy of a good sorry letter.
Apologize sincerelyAn insincere sorry email can actually make things worse. After you greet the recipient, it’s appropriate to simply say “I’m sorry.” But be sure not to blame the person for anything. Just say you are sorry, NOT “I’m sorry, but you…”
Take the brunt of the mistakeAlthough it might be the hardest part of writing your apology email, it’s essential to own the mistake and show the recipient that you are taking responsibility for your actions. If you do so, you will likely come out in a much better light in your recipient’s eyes immediately.
Explain what happened and what are you going to doYour next step should be to explain to your reader what went wrong. And while an apology is good, the action is better. Let the recipient know how you intend to fix the situation.
Be open to conversationSending a sorry letter is your chance to start a healthy conversation. But be ready to talk if the recipient has further unresolved concerns.
Add something positiveA good apology email can not only fix the situation but also turn it into a positive one. Notice the difference between: “I’m sorry for this mistake. I promise you it never happens again.” vs. “Whoops! It looks like I sent you the wrong promo code. I hope you will have much better luck using this one with your next order.” In some cases, a little self-irony is also appropriate. Just don’t overdo it.
Seek forgivenessUnless it makes the reader feel uncomfortable, ask for forgiveness. But don’t be demanding. For example: “Please don’t make such a big deal of it. Just forgive me.” vs. “I can’t expect your forgiveness, but I hope for it.” Can you feel the difference?
What a good apology email looks like?When writing an apology letter, professionals should keep in mind these three essential things.
Relevant subject lineWriting the right subject line is always important, but they are even more critical in an apology letter because you need to set the right tone from the start. Choose the subject line that makes it clear that it is a sorry email. Here are several examples of subject lines for the occasion:
- "Sorry about that"
- "I apologize for the confusion"
- "I’ve made a mistake."
Simple email bodyKeep it simple. Consider using plain text instead of a well-designed HTML email.
Should you keep an email signature?If it is a sorry email to clients, it is better to keep an email signature with your name and photo to show that the email is coming from a real person, not a faceless group.
Examples of apology lettersNow that we have covered the components of a good apology email, let’s combine them into templates that you can save and customize to specific situations.
Example #1: Sorry email to a clientDear Ms. Chapman, Sorry to hear that the printer you purchased from us stopped working. I assume that you bought it for office purposes, as this model isn’t intended for home use. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience it might have caused in your work. After you reported the issue, we checked a few more models of this printer, and it turned out that other devices failed to function properly as well. But this is the first time we’ve heard of this problem. We contacted the manufacturer, and they promised to replace all faulty models. You can pick up your replacement printer no later than in two days. If you have a tight schedule, I am ready to come to your office at a convenient time with a new printer. But please feel free to let me know if you would prefer a refund. Once again, I apologize for this situation. Please call me on +12345678 if you have questions. Thank you for understanding.
Example #2: Apology letter to boss or managerDear Mr. Rivera, Please accept my sincere apologies for not showing up for the meeting with ABC company on Monday afternoon. I know how important the presentation was for us, and it was unprofessional of me to be absent without informing you in advance. I am truly sorry. I missed the meeting due to the personal situation that took me across town. But I promise you this won’t happen again. I’ve sent an email with apologies to ABC, spoken with Mr. Walsh and Mr. Anderson personally. They proposed to reschedule the presentation for Friday morning. If there is anything else that I can do to fix the situation and earn your trust back, please let me know. Best regards,
Example #3: Mass apology letter from customer serviceDear John Hemmit, We sincerely apologize for the delays in deliveries due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Orders from 29th March will only be fulfilled from 15th April. To show you how sorry we are, we are sending you a 15% off gift card with your package. You can use it on any purchase from our website, and it has no expiration. Sincerely,
Example #4: Personal apology emailDear Melissa, I owe you an apology. I know how important it was for you, and I had to celebrate with you. But then when the big day came, I had to go to Rome to meet my business partner. I hope you had a terrific graduation and that my belated wishes find you well. I would love to take you out to dinner next week, my treat. Please give me a call. Sincerely,
Ostap is a marketing professional (PMM) with 5+ years of experience in the software industry (B2B and B2C). Having worked with email marketing products and services, Ostap has a deep understanding of various email marketing strategies and solutions.