Drafting a good business apology letter is one of the tasks a busy executive will often ask his/her Personal Assistant or secretary to complete on his/her behalf; therefore, it helps to understand how to apologise professionally on your boss's behalf. A well drafted apology can limit the damage done, retain the customer and even strengthen your relationship with the customer.
The facts detailed in the 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 legal issues may arise from the complaint, it's better to delay drafting a reply until legal advice has been received.
Before drafting a letter of apology find out if the problem has affected anyone else in your organisation. 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 the best time to send the apology letter. A good sample letter would include the following.
1) Get comprehensive details about how the situation unfolded.
2) Stick to the facts of the immediate situation without digressing.
3) Acknowledge any pain or damage suffered by the customer.
4) Avoid making excuses that could be construed as putting your organisation's needs above the needs of the customer.
5) State that the company takes full responsibility for what happened (if that is the case). The important thing is to apologise for the inconvenience experienced by the customer, even if it's the customer's fault - this does not mean that you have accepted responsibility for what happened.
6) Outline your organisation’s role in the incident.
7) State that your organisation regrets that the situation occurred. This is not the same as an apology; it's empathy.
8) If it's your organisation's fault, to retain the customer ask 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 on your products.
11) Maintain focus on the customer and on the circumstances of the complaint.
12) Keep in mind your organisation's business strategy - is this customer key to breaking into a new market?
13) Make allowances for customer service policies like “the customer is always right”.
14) State that your organisation would very much like to maintain the business relationship and that it looks forward to doing business with the customer 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 respectful and considerate tone will go a long way to rebuilding a damaged relationship.
For the sake of customer retention and customer loyalty, make the customer feel valued by arranging a time in the future when your boss can apologise in person.
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