It is important as an employer to ascertain the details of what went wrong and why such a thing happened. An email alone may not satisfy some customers, therefore a follow-up visit, after the initial apology, by a customer relations officer may be very appropriate.
Your clients should not be treated with levity; the source of every complaint should be looked into, and every necessary adjustment should be made.
In your email, it will be unprofessional to mention the name of the employee(s) in question. Ensure the client knows he/she is important to you. However, resist calls for harsh actions to be taken on the employee, except for cases in which the law (company or government) has been breached. Let the client know that necessary actions would be taken as regards the employee’s negligence.
A Guide To The Apology Email
The whole idea of sending an apology via email is to quickly salvage and maintain the relationship you have built with your customer. It is possible that the fury or displeasure of your client is unfounded; also, the employee in question may not have done anything wrong. It could have been a misinterpretation or some other misunderstanding on the customer’s part.
In any case, allow the client to feel he/she is right while you address the situation accordingly.
Begin your email with polite salutations. Quickly point out your reason for sending the mail. State what seems to be the issue on ground clearly before proceeding to any other point. Be succinct in presenting the matter at hand.
State the Steps You are Taking
Next, explain to the client the steps the company has taken or intends to take to rectify the situation at the moment, and what it is also doing to prevent such from happening again. This is where you may note that the employee in question will face necessary penalties – this could range from just a verbal rebuke to a query letter or other stronger actions depending on the gravity of the employee’s negligence, but the details need not be disclosed to the client.
Stay on the Side of Your Client
It is futile to attempt to defend the ‘guilty’ employee or even the company. First acknowledge the client’s dissatisfaction. Then if the client is wrong, use tact and politeness to point out the facts that show this. Get concrete evidence to help the client see the error, while you still make the client feel he/she is ‘right’. If eventually, the customer refuses to see his/her wrong, still go ahead and attempt to mend things as much as you can.
Reiterate the Value of the Client
Ensure that in each paragraph, the customer’s value is reiterated, let the customer know that he/she remains special to you despite the obvious displeasure with your services. This constant reminder will help soothe the nerve, and your apology will be read more objectively.
To conclude this email, do a recap of the main points, beginning from the issue to the stated solution and actions being taken. Again, stress the client’s irreplaceable value to your company.
Sample Email: Apologizing for an Employee's Error
Dear Mr Douglas,
I want to personally apologize for how one of our employees attended to you last night. Her manner of approach and unnecessary rude actions towards you are not acceptable, and I condemn them in the strongest of terms. You have been a loyal client, you deserve better from us.
As a result of this, the employee has been suspended for two days without pay, so that she can have time to reflect on her actions and correct her behavior. We cherish your patronage. We would like to present you with a voucher worth $25 to use at any of our outlets within the state. Please accept this token as a way of showing how sorry we are for this situation.
We just hired a customer relations specialist to conduct weekly training for all employees in order to ensure a similar event does not repeat itself. Customers like you are the ones that keep us in business, and we cannot afford to allow such embarrassing situations to be the order of the day in our company.
We believe this incidence will not occur, and we hope you are satisfied with the solution provided.
Thank you so much for your patience and understanding.
Cephas Bryant (Sales Manager)
Sample Email 2: Apologizing for an Employee's Error
Dear Mr Johnson,
The entire management and staff of Peter and Peter Foods, apologize for what happened two days ago at our inner city outlet.
One of our employees mistakenly placed the wrong price tag on the birthday cake that you wanted to purchase for your daughter’s fifth birthday. Instead of $100, the label that was on the cake read $45. This only came to the notice of the cashier while you were about to pay, and it led to an embarrassing moment for you especially because you eventually were unable to purchase the cake.
Indeed you were right to be angry with the cashier, although she had nothing to do with this error, the machine calculated the real cost of the cake after it read the barcode.
We greatly value your patronage and appreciate your patience. The company is saddened by this situation. The employee who made the error in tagging the items has already tendered an apology letter, and has been scolded for such negligence.
Also, we have adopted a ‘double-check’ policy in which price lists are rechecked after being tagged to items. This is to ensure that valued clients like you do not go through a similar situation ever again.
We believe that this kind of error will not occur again as we look forward to your continued patronage.
Thank you for understanding.
Maryanne Watson (Regional Manager, Southwest)