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10 Customer Apology Email Templates to Help Retain Business

Lauren Strapagiel
Lauren Strapagiel
Last updated on 
November 18, 2022
November 18, 2022
10 Customer Apology Email Templates to Help Retain Business

You can — and should — prepare for these mishaps with a library of apology email templates. A timely apology email builds trust, prevents churn, improves your retention rate, protects your bottom line, and keeps your company name in good standing.

According to KPMG, 46% of customers who are truly loyal to a brand will remain so even after a negative experience. They’re also far more likely to recommend a brand to friends and family or write a positive review online. 

An effective apology email is your best bet to regain and reinforce customer loyalty after an error or delay. And loyal customers are closely linked to revenue. According to data from more than 10,000 Gorgias merchants, repeat customers generate 300% more revenue than first-time customers.

Repeat customers generate 300% more revenue than first-time customers.
Source: The Effortless Experience

Continue reading to learn the key components that every effective and sincere apology email should have, as well as some dos and don’ts, to keep customers on your side.

Dos and don’ts for customer service apology emails

Apologies can repair the situation or make it worse. If you bungle the apology, you risk losing a customer forever. But a well-executed apology can strengthen your relationship with a customer, as Brianna Christiano, Gorgias's Director of Support, explains.

 “In my experience, proactively sending an apology email and admitting that maybe you made a mistake as a company, or you didn't provide the best experience, really builds trust with customers,” says Christiano. “You'd be surprised how many customers will forgive you for that mistake.”

This list will prepare you for creating your own customer service apology emails to make sure you correct the situation without making it worse.

Customer apology email best practices and mistakes to avoid.

Do: Create a library of brand-appropriate apology email templates

When a mistake happens, you don’t want to be left scrambling. Being prepared ahead of time with email templates will allow you to send out on-brand apology emails and correct the mistake as quickly as possible. 

It’s also critical that everyone on your customer support team has access to those templates. Make this part of your customer service training and onboarding to ensure that every customer is receiving the same level of care when an apology needs to happen.

With Macros, Gorgias customers can build a library of customer service responses, including apologies, to send as emails to customers. You can respond directly to tickets in your helpdesk using these Macros and ensure consistent messaging, no matter who responds. 

Macros are templates that you build for common ticket responses, such as shipping inquiries or apologies, that can be further customized with individual customer information.

Macros integrate with ecommerce platforms (like Shopify or BigCommerce) so you can insert personalized information for each customer. Here’s an example of how Macros use variables to pull customer data directly from BigCommerce (in this case) and automatically personalize the message:  

Personalized, automated email templates with Gorgias.

Don’t: Wait to apologize

Speed is of the essence when it’s time to send a customer apology email. You should send an apology as soon as you see something has gone wrong, rather than waiting for a customer complaint to come in.

Frustrating or negative customer experiences decrease loyalty. According to The Effortless Experience, 96% of high-effort experiences — such as having to contact the company  — make the customer feel disloyal afterward. Frustrated customers can easily turn into angry customers

“Instead, you're reducing the escalation upfront by being proactive,” says Christiano. “When the company sends an email about an issue the customer didn’t notice, customers appreciate that the company has gone above and beyond.”

Gorgias analyzes incoming tickets for sentiment to detect angry and escalated customers so you can address them before they take their anger out on social media and cause further damage.

Detect customer intention with Gorgias.
Source: Gorgias

You can then apply rules (or automation) to filter tickets based on sentiment and prioritize your customer responses.

Do: Personalize the apology to each customer based on past interactions

A personal apology is always a more sincere apology. When you create your templates for customer apology emails, leave spots to insert personalized information about the affected customer, from the customer’s name to more detailed order information.

You can get even more detailed than that, though. Using Gorgias’ Customer Sidebar feature, your customer success or support team can see information in the sidebar such as:

  • Past orders
  • Reviews
  • Loyalty status and points
  • Previous conversations

For example, you could thank a customer for a past review (“Thanks so much for your kind words about our matcha powder!”), or reference a past order (“How did you like the matcha powder you ordered last month?”).

Or, go above and beyond ("Again, so sorry for this issue. I noticed you're a frequent shopper here and I want to thank you for your business and patience as we sort this out — here's a discount code for 15% off your next order: SORRY15!").

Personalize customer conversations with the Gorgias customer sidebar.

If you see a customer has left a negative comment in the past, mention it and tell them how that feedback has helped your brand to correct the issue and provide better service.

Taking the time to personalize customer interactions, including apology emails, directly impacts your revenue. According to a study by Twilio, 98% of companies say personalization increases customer loyalty. Additionally, customers around the world spend an average of 46% more when engagement is personalized. 

Don’t: Send your email to unaffected customers

Being proactive with your apology letters is important, but you can also go too far. Sending these emails to customers who haven’t actually been affected by the issue will just create more headaches for your customer support reps.

“Before you send a mass email to 50,000 customers, make sure that most of those people were impacted. Because if you don't, you're going to create more confusion,” says Christiano. 

If, for example, you’re having supply issues, don’t send a mass email to every single customer. Those whose orders are actually unaffected will now think there’s a problem with their orders even if there’s not. That’s going to mean more incoming and unnecessary tickets for you to deal with. 

Do: Maintain a tone that reflects your brand but also the severity of the mistake

Every company has a different brand identity and style of communication. For some, it may be on-brand to send communications with emojis and playful wording. Others may prefer something more simple and elegant. In any case, you may need to adjust that voice for customer apology letters.

This starts right from the subject line. If a customer’s order is delayed, whether due to shipping issues or stock shortages, that’s a serious issue. Sending a subject line with cutesy wording like “oops” and frowning emojis may communicate that you’re not taking the delay seriously.

“If it's a small inconvenience, I think you can keep it lighter. It really just depends on the severity of the problem,” says Christiano. 

Here’s an example of a small mistake that justifies a light-hearted tone:

Customer apology email example.
Source: Paperchase

And here’s an example of a graver issue, handled with more detail and a serious tone:

Customer apology email example.
Source: Death Wish Coffee

In the body of the email, use straightforward language that clearly acknowledges the problem rather than dancing around the issue and directly communicate how you’ve corrected the mistake. 

Again, this is where creating personalized email apologies comes in. Christiano says you should look at factors like:

  • The price point of an order
  • The customer’s order history
  • The customer’s VIP or loyalty status
  • The tone of past reviews and conversations

Adjust the templates below to fit with your brand’s unique voice, but don’t forget that the wrong tone can make an apology email less effective.

Don’t: Leave the customer empty handed

A sincere apology to your customers should directly acknowledge the issue, take full responsibility, tell them what steps are being done to correct it, and give them a reason to come back and shop again.

Consider ending apology letters with some sort of offer — a voucher code for free shipping, a discount coupon code, store credit, or other perks. This demonstrates that you understand the customer has dealt with an inconvenience and you want to make it up to them beyond sending your “sincerest apologies.”

Christiano says it’s a good rule of thumb that if an issue is serious enough that you need to send an apology email, it’s worth considering including some sort of offer. For the most serious issues, you may even want to offer a full refund to retain that customer.

Here’s a great example of a mass email apology that extends the discount for goodwill (and more sales):

Customer apology email example.
Source: ELOQUII

Don’t think of offering a coupon code as a further loss. It’s better to take a small hit on the next purchase than to not get the next order at all. Plus, an angry customer may leave negative reviews on your site or social media, driving away other potential customers and impacting your customer satisfaction (CSAT) score. 

10 apology email templates for every type of mishap

Below you’ll find useful email templates for every type of apology you may have to send as a brand. These apology email examples have spaces for you to insert personalized information for each customer, such as the customer’s name and shopping history. Use these as a starting point to craft your own letter templates.

1) Service or website outage or downtime (mass email)

This template is for when you’ve had site-wide technical issues or glitch that has impacted your entire customer base. Mass emails are less customized than individual emails, but should still contain all the key parts of a good apology.

Hi {{Customer first name}},

We’re currently experiencing a service outage for {{Website / Product / Service}}. We’re actively working on resolving the issue, which we believe is due to {{Reason for outage}}. We apologize for the inconvenience and assure you we’ll have everything up and running as quickly as possible.

Stay tuned at {{Website / Social media page}} for the latest updates.

Thanks, 

{{Current agent first name}}

2) Late shipment or delivery (individual)

This is for when a customer’s order will be sent out late. This is when you should consider how to tailor your apology letter to the unique customer and their history with your brand.

Hi {{Customer First Name}},

We regret to inform you that your order {{order number}} has been delayed.

We apologize for any inconvenience, and we appreciate your understanding. The reason for the delay is {{reason for the delay}}.

You can track the status of your order using this tracking link {{Link to tracking portal}}.

If you’d like to return or exchange your order, you can do so here {{Link to return/exchange portal}}.

Once again, we apologize for the inconvenience. Please let us know if you have any questions or can provide further assistance. 

Best,

{{Current agent first name}}

3) Late shipment or delivery (mass email)

This is for when you have a company-wide issue with delivery times, such as stock shortages or even shipping issues beyond your control, and need to send a mass apology email.

Hi {{Customer First Name}},

We’re reaching out to let you know that we’re currently experiencing shipment delays, largely due to {{Cause (e.g. supply chain issues, holiday rush, broken workflows, etc.}}. There will most likely be delays of {{range of business days}} on recent orders.

We understand this is a serious issue and are doing everything in our power to fulfill your orders as quickly as possible. For more information on shipping delays, you can check out {{link to FAQ page}}. If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to our team by responding to this email.

Best,

{{Current agent first name}}

4) Package never arrived

This is a customer whose order has been lost This will likely be sent in response to an incoming ticket from an upset customer.

Hi {{Customer First Name}},

Thank you for reaching out! I’m so sorry to hear that you were unable to locate the missing package. Rest assured we will remedy this situation for you. 

I have two options to offer: we can ship a replacement to you or issue a full refund for the order instead. If you prefer a replacement order, we kindly ask that you confirm the shipping address of where you would like the replacement order sent. We look forward to receiving your reply.

{{Current agent first name}}

5) Item arrived damaged

This is for when a customer receives a defective product. You’ll need to provide instructions on what the customer should do next, in addition to an apology. 

Hi {{Customer First Name}}, 

Thanks for reaching out about your recent order {{Number of last order}}. I’m sorry to hear about your experience. As we try our best to provide exceptional service, some factors like shipping and handling are out of our control and issues like this can happen.  

Please send us a photo of the broken/damaged item(s) you received and we’ll do our best to resolve this as soon as possible. 

{{Current agent first name}} 

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6) Incorrect item delivered

If the incorrect item, or incorrect quantity of an item, is delivered you’ll need to apologize but also tell the customer what they should do with any incorrect items.

Hi {{Customer First Name}},

Thank you for letting us know we sent you the wrong product. We apologize for the inconvenience. We are sending you the correct product, the {{correct product name}} and it will be shipped by {{estimated shipping date}}. 

We sent it using expedited shipping, so you should receive it {{estimated delivery date}}. Please return {{old product}} in the original shipping box and packaging using the attached shipping label and instructions. Please contact us with any additional questions. 

{{Current agent first name}}

7) Previous communication mistake

If you sent a piece of email marketing with an incorrect or missing discount code, for example, you should follow up with an apology and correction. And, if it’s not too complicated, explain what caused the miscommunication in the first place, and the steps you’ve taken to prevent it from happening again. 

Hi {{Customer First Name}},

On {{day of the communication mistake}}, we experienced a hiccup with {{cause of the error}}. This resulted in you receiving a confusing email — sorry about that!

We addressed the issue and hope to avoid this happening in the future. As a way to apologize for any confusion caused by the last email, we {{Insert policy: temporary discount, free shipping, personalized code, added a credit, etc..}}. 

Thank you for understanding. Please respond to this email with any questions!

Best,

{{Current agent first name}} 

8) Reply to a bad customer review

When a customer is upset, a professional apology can go a long way to correcting the issue and retaining their business.

{{Customer First Name}},

Thanks so much for your feedback on {{Customer survey, review site, etc.}}.

I wanted to check in and get a little more information from you about your experience. This will help our team improve future experiences for you and other shoppers. If you’re open to it, you can just reply to this email and share your thoughts.

Thanks for your time, 

{{Current agent first name}}

9) Poor service experience

As we’ve discussed, poor customer experience can decrease loyalty. Correcting the issue and apologizing can help get that loyalty back.

Hi {{Customer first name}},

Thank you for reaching out and letting us know about your experience with us. This is not up to our standard and I've passed this along to our team to ensure this doesn't happen again. 

In addition, I've {{Insert policy: refund, added a credit, send a replacement, etc.}} to make this right. 

We truly value you as a customer and apologize for the inconvenience this caused.

Please let me know if I can help with anything else.

{{Current agent first name}}

10) Escalated customer

If a customer is already escalated, you need to have an apology email that reflects how the customer feels. Unhappy customers can cause lots of damage beyond lost business, including damage to your reputation through social posting and reviews.

Hi {{Customer first name}},

Thank you for reaching out and letting us know about your experience with us. This is not up to our standard and I've passed this along to our team to ensure this doesn't happen again.

I have CC’d {{Technical/Lead agent first name}} on this email. They will be able to figure out what happened here and ensure that we resolve this for you. 

{{Current agent first name}}

Winning back upset customers is worth it

When mistakes happen, remember that your most valuable customers are the ones who come back again and again. Mistakes create a risk of losing a customer, but it’s also an opportunity to rebuild loyalty and turn a bad situation into a chance for a positive customer service interaction.

Your customer service team should have a clear process in place for winning back upset customers and having a thorough library of sincere, on-brand customer apology emails is a key piece of the process. 

For further reading on customer responses, read about Gorgias’ other customer email templates and customer service scripts inspired by top ecommerce brands.

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Start a demo with Gorgias today to streamline your customer responses and get the best possible return on investment with customer service.Mistakes happen. Even with the best-laid plans, your ecommerce business will inevitably run into shipping delays, website outages, and other mishaps that cause customer complaints.

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