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How to make a Business Apology

Updated: Oct 25, 2021

Sometimes things happen at work where we end up needing to apologise. In this lesson, I will share some ways to apologise professionally.

Correct timing.

It is best to apologise as soon as you realise that a mistake has been made. However, it is equally important not to rush and to take your time to prepare your apology.

Means of communication.

There are many ways to apologise: you can apologise in person, over the phone, in an e-mail or in a handwritten letter. Every situation is different, so take your time to choose how to deliver your apology in a way that best suits the given circumstances.

Explanation without excuses.

After apologising you can briefly explain why it happened, but be careful not to start making excuses. Keep in mind that the customer is always right, and take full responsibility for the mistake.

Clear structure.

Whether written or spoken, an apology needs to have a clear structure:

  • apologise

  • clearly state what you did wrong

  • acknowledge the inconvenience caused

  • promise that it won't happen again

  • offer compensation (if it is necessary or appropriate to do so)

Here are some useful phrases

  • We are very sorry to hear that.

  • We are sorry for the inconvenience.

  • We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

  • Please accept our sincere apologies.

  • Let us know if there is anything we can do for you.

  • Should you have any questions please call this number 555-6789.

An example of an Apology Letter Dear valued customer, We are very sorry to hear that the item you bought last month was faulty. It is the first time that this has happened. We pride ourselves on producing quality products and we are terribly sorry for any inconvenience caused. We arranged a replacement product and sent it by post immediately after receiving your complaint. In the event that you do not receive it within the next three days, feel free to call us on 555-6789. Please accept our sincere apologies. Yours faithfully, The Product People

Check your understanding: 1. What is The Product People apologising for? 2. What did they say in an attempt to regain the trust of the customer? 3. What kind of compensation did they offer for making the mistake? 4. What is the structure of this apology letter?

Discussion 1. Have you ever had to write an apology letter or have you ever received one? If so, what for? 2. Do you find it difficult to apologise when you make a mistake? Why? Why not? 3. Is it easier for you to apologise in person or via other means of communication? 4. “The more excuses you give, the guiltier you seem.” Do you agree with this statement?

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