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How to write an apology letter to customers (+ 8 examples)

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Why write an apology email to customers?

While mistakes like a wrong email or delayed shipment are all too common in the business world, they can lead to a negative customer experience. 

According to a study by Emplifi, just one negative experience is enough for 52% of customers to stop doing business with a brand. And, two bad experiences are enough for 86% of customers to switch their loyalties.

By sending a timely and sincere apology email to customers, you can win their trust again.

When done well, an apology email can help turn your mistakes into customer loyalty opportunities.

Read on to learn how to write an apology email to a customer and get inspired by apology email examples, apology email templates, and ideas for apology email subject lines.

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Apology email examples for different use-cases

Let’s start with a few apology email examples before talking about how to apologize in an email.

1. Incorrect information apology email example

Email mistakes can take many shapes, right from including incorrect data to providing incomplete information.

Even if the mistake is a minor one, taking proactive steps to send an apology email to a customer shows professionalism and integrity. 

In an email newsletter, Methodical Coffee mistakenly referred to Colombia as a country situated in Central America. To rectify the situation, the company sent the below email acknowledging the mistake.

2. Product or service issue apology email

If a product or service issue has occurred, it’s important to send an apology email to the customer as soon as possible to acknowledge the issue and offer a solution, such as a refund or replacement.

Apple, for example, emailed an apology to those impacted by an iCloud outage.

3. Billing or payment issue apology email template

When it comes to billing or payment mistakes, the most important thing is to take responsibility and apologize sincerely.

Start by acknowledging the mistake and how it has affected the customer. 

Also, highlight what actions have been taken to avoid or rectify such errors. If possible, offer some form of compensation, such as a discount, a refund, or a waiver of late fees.

Here’s an apology email template that you can use to send an apology email to a customer for invoice errors.

4. Shipping delay apology email example

When it comes to writing an email apologizing for a shipping delay, ensure you let your customers know that you understand how frustrating it can be to have their order delayed and that you genuinely regret the inconvenience.

Even if it was beyond your control (such as bad weather or other unforeseen circumstances), acknowledge the delay and assure your customer that you’re doing everything possible to get their order back on track.

Here’s an example of an apology email to a customer for a shipping delay from Thread.

A small gesture of goodwill, such as a gift coupon or a discount, can go a long way in restoring trust with your customers. See how Amazon has done that in this apology email:

Shipping delays are a common issue faced by ecommerce customers. If you own an ecommerce business, you can quickly create an apology email for shipping delays using Omnisend.

Apart from seamless integrations with ecommerce platforms, such as Shopify, Wix, and Bigcommerce, Omnisend offers global SMS marketing, something that very few competitors can offer.

5. Technical issue apology email

Whether it’s an unexpected outage or a malfunctioning feature, technical issues that prevent your customers from completing a purchase or accessing your website warrant a prompt apology email.

While acknowledging the problem, offer a brief explanation of what went wrong and what you’re doing or have done to rectify the situation. 

In this concise apology email to a customer, Crane Stationery reassures them that the issue has been fixed and offers a 15% discount in bold font.

A little humor goes a long way to build trust and re-engage your customers. 

Take a look at this apology email to a customer from Milligram featuring Kirby, the brand’s furry team member. 

6. Emailing the wrong recipient

If you sent an email to the wrong recipient, it’s important to promptly send an apology email to customer to explain how the mistake occurred.

Was it a case of accidentally hitting “send” too soon? Or did you mistakenly select the wrong recipient from your contacts list?

Take a look at this apology email from Emma. In addition to a sincere apology, the sender reassures the recipient that they will never receive such emails again.

7.  Apology for sending the wrong email 

Sending the wrong email can lead to a brand coming across as sloppy and unprofessional. 

By following it up with a sincere apology email to your customers, you can turn a potentially damaging situation into an opportunity for relationship-building. 

A good example here is this email from Shipt. The apology email subject line was “It’s not deja vu.”

8. Customer service issue apology

If a customer has had a negative experience with your customer service team, the first step to take is to send an apology email.

Remember to personalize the email by using their name and referencing any specific details about their experience that they may have mentioned in their previous correspondence.

Here’s a sample apology email template that you can send to a customer who has had a negative experience with a customer service representative.

How to write an apology email

If you’re looking for email marketing tools that help you quickly design a compelling apology email, check out Omnisend.

While the platform is perfect for beginners, it has advanced features that large brands are looking for, such as product recommender, email templates, and A/B testing.

Here are some tips that will help you put together an apology email in no time.

Respond quickly

Apologizing as soon as you discover the mistake shows that you care about your customers’ feelings and are committed to making things right.

Besides, sending a prompt apology email can help diffuse the situation and prevent it from becoming a bigger problem.

If the mistake has impacted several customers, the best way to send a timely apology email is to automate your email marketing campaigns and send bulk emails.

Optimize your apology email subject line

The subject line typically decides the fate of an email, as in, whether it will be opened and read.

While there is no character or word limit for the subject line, these are the character lengths displayed on different email clients and devices:

We recommend keeping the subject line short (preferably between 5 and 7 words) and crisp to maximize the open rate.

It is a great idea to apologize straight away in the subject line to let recipients know what the email is about, like how Shutterfly has done in this email.

The subject line for this apology email reads “We’re SO sorry…”

Start the email with an apology

Apologize explicitly right at the beginning of your email or in the “above the fold” area in emails.

This is typically the first thing that recipients will see when they open an email and is considered to be the most valuable positioning for key messages and CTAs.

According to Oracle Marketing Consulting, CTAs placed in this area get 8% higher click-through rates.

In this apology email to a customer, Zocdoc starts off with an apology.

Be sincere and empathetic

When sending an apology email to a customer, it is important to come across as sincere to convey your regret for the mistake.  

Show empathy to let your customers know that you truly understand how they feel.

For instance, instead of saying “I’m sorry for the inconvenience,” you can show that you know the exact problem your customers faced and say something like this:

This can help customers feel that you are on their side and that their concerns aren’t being taken lightly.

Personalize your apology emails

Personalizing your apology emails shows that you value your customers and are genuinely sorry for any inconvenience or harm caused. 

Here are some tips for personalizing your apology email:

  • Use the recipient’s name: Start your email by addressing the customer by their name, rather than using a generic greeting like “dear customer.”
  • Mention the specific situation: Acknowledge the specific situation that the customer is facing, such as a product or service issue.
  • Offer a tailored solution: Offer a solution that is tailored to the customer’s specific situation, such as a refund, replacement, or compensation.

It may also be appropriate to follow up with individual recipients with personalized apologies if necessary.

An easy way to personalize your emails is to use Omnisend’s segmentation features. 

In addition to this, the platform offers a great range of features for a low price, that translates to a high ROI for brands.

Explain why the mistake occurred

If you are vague or attempt to hide the real reasons for a mistake, customers may lose trust in your brand. 

Briefly explain what happened—did you accidentally attach the wrong file or was there a technical glitch that affected your website? Give some context as to why this happened but don’t dwell on it too much.

Here’s an example from Peet’s Coffee to inspire you:

If the mistake is a minor one, you can get away wit it by using a touch of humor, like this:

Provide a solution

Offer a solution or the steps you are taking to address the situation and prevent it from happening again.

This could mean sending a corrected version of the original email or offering additional support to those affected by your error.

A good example here is the apology email from KLM following flight disruptions in the summer of 2022. As you can see, the sender lists the steps they are taking to improve their performance.

KLM flight disruptions and problem solutions apology email

Offer compensation

Offering compensation when sending an apology email to customers shows that you value their business and care about their satisfaction.

Compensation can be a refund, discount, or free product or service.

Here’s an apology email from Joules that includes an attractive discount. 

Offer additional support

Depending on how serious the situation is, you may need to offer additional support. Provide the contact details for customers to reach out to you, like how Shutterfly has done in this apology email:

Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback in an apology email to a customer is an important step in the process of regainng their trust. 

It shows that you are committed to making things right and are open to improving your products or services based on customer feedback.

This apology email from Framebridge gets it right by using words that show how much the brand values its customers and asks for feedback as well.

End on a positive note

It’s important to remember that while the apology itself is necessary, ending on a positive note can help repair any damage done and leave a lasting impression.

One way to do this is by expressing gratitude. This email from Pet Supplies Plus is a great example of how to end your apology email on a positive note.

Apology email template 

Having an apology email template allows for consistency across all your communications. This helps establish a brand image that prioritizes customer service and accountability.

Here’s an apology email template that you can customize and use in multiple scenarios, and adapt for your business.

Subject: We’re sorry! Please accept our apologies.

Dear [first name],

We apologize for [description of mistake], and how it impacted your [ experience on our site/ workflow/productivity].

Here’s what happened: [A brief explanation of the cause]

We take complete responsibility for [the problem] and are working to resolve the issue and prevent its recurrence by [description of the steps being taken]. 

As a token of our apology, we would like to offer [compensation]. 

At [company name], we value your business and want to ensure that you are fully satisfied with your experience with us.

We’d love any feedback you could provide us with regarding your experience. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at [contact information].

Thank you for your patience and continued support.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

[Company name]

How to end an apology email

Needless to say, the ending of an apology email to a customer is as important as the beginning.

Here are some ways to end the apology email on the right note: 

  • Thank the customer: Thank the recipient for their patience and understanding during this difficult situation. Show appreciation for their time and effort in bringing the issue to your attention so that you could address it properly.
  • Assure them of your commitment: Reiterate your resolve to providing better service in the future.
  • Inject positivity: A simple statement like “thank you for giving us another chance” can go a long way in promoting goodwill and strengthening relationships.

Apology email subject lines

The most effective apology email subject lines are brief (not more than 7 words), to the point, and convey the reason for sending the email.

Here are some examples that can inspire you: 

  • We messed up and we’re sorry!
  • Please accept our sincerest apologies
  • Oops! We made a mess
  • We goofed up. Let us make it right 
  • Sorry for the inconvenience 
  • Oops! We didn’t mean to send that
  • We’re sorry! You deserve a XX% discount
  • Our apologies for letting you down
  • We owe you an apology 
  • Apologies from [Company Name]
  • We’re sorry for letting you down
  • We promise to do better
  • Please forgive us

Given that the subject line determines the open rate, its important to optimize it by using a subject line optimizer tool, such as Omnisend’s email subject line tester. You also can generate email subject line using Omnisend’s free AI tool.

The free tool lets you test multiple subject lines and offers deep insights and recommendations for optimizing the subject line.

These insights include character count, word count, scannability, and more.

Final thoughts

Sending an apology email to customers can be a great way to rebuild your relationship with them after a problem or mistake has occurred.

Start by crafting a compelling apology email subject line. Remember to be sincere while showing empathy for the customer’s experience. Provide clear solutions that address their issue, and end the email on a positive note.

Don’t forget to use Omnisend’s email marketing tools that help you save time and create effective emails.

In addition to award-winning 24/7 customer support, Omnisend offers a dedicated Customer Success Manager at a lower price compared to its competitors.

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Richard White
Article by
Richard White

Richard is a Content Marketing Manager at Omnisend. An avid writer, he's said to have been born holding a pencil. Fascinated by all things handmade, if he's not reading or writing he can often be found practicing leathercraft.


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