Drafting a good business apology letter is one of the tasks a busy executive will often ask her Personal Assistant to complete on her behalf, so it helps to understand how to apologise on your boss' behalf. A well drafted apology can limit the damage done, retain the customer, and even strengthen your relationship with the customer.
A letter of complaint should be investigated as soon as possible, so that a business apology letter can be drafted and sent to the customer without delay. However, if you suspect that there are legal issues, it's better to delay sending a formal reply until you receive legal advice.
Before drafting a letter of apology, you should first consider the reason for the apology. Find out if the problem has affected anyone else. Then thoroughly investigate the issue to determine exactly what you are apologising for. Decide who you need to apologise to; how you should apologise, and when would be the best time to send the apology letter. A good sample letter would take account of the following issues.
1) Get comprehensive details about how the situation unfolded.
2) Stick to the facts of the immediate situation.
3) Acknowledge any pain or damage suffered by the customer.
4) Avoid making excuses that could be construed as putting the business’ needs above the customer’s.
5) State that the company takes full responsibility for what has happened, if that is the case.
6) Outline the company’s role in the incident.
7) State that the company regrets the situation.
8) To retain customer, ask the customer for forgiveness.
9) Assure the customer that the situation will not occur again.
10) As restitution, send the customer a gift, or give them a discount.
11) Maintain focus on the customer and on the circumstances of the complaint.
12) Consider the company's business strategy.
13) Make allowances for customer service policies like “the customer is always right”.
14) Let the customer know that the company would very much like to continue their relationship and looks forward to doing business with them in the future.
Include all of the above elements to produce a concise and appropriate business apology letter. Keep the letter as brief as possible and be mindful of the tone of the letter. A repectful and considerate tone will go a long way to rebuilding a damaged customer relationship.
For the sake of customer retention and customer loyalty, and subject to legal considerations, it is better to extend an apology, even though the company is not at fault, than to risk losing a valuable customer. Make the customer feel valued; arrange a time in the future when you can apologise in person.
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