Drafting a good business apology letter is one of the tasks a busy executive often asks his/her Personal Assistant to do, so 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 the company's relationship with a disgruntled customer.
All complaints should be investigated as soon as possible, so that a business apology letter can be drafted and sent to the customer without delay. If you suspect that legal issues may arise as a result of the complaint, it is better to delay drafting a reply until legal advice has been received. However, to manage the customer's expectations, be sure to notify them that you are looking into the complaint and will be in touch within a specific period of time.
Before drafting the letter, a thorough understanding of the details in the letter of complaint is required. But you should also understand the emotional tone of the customer. What is the customer most annoyed about. Is it the badly-bound book that she purchased 2 week ago, only to have 4 of the pages fall out? Or is it that she called one of your branches and was given the run-a-around, but no real assistance?
Before drafting the apology find out if others in your organisation have received similar complaints. Is the root cause being dealt with? Then you can reassure the customer.
A thorough understanding of the complaint helps you to determine exactly what you are apologising for, and who you need to apologise to. It will also help you to determine what you can offer the complainant in the way of an apology. And the best time to send the apology.
A good letter of apology would include some or all of the following.
1) Essential facts like date of incident or price paid for product.
2) A brief paraphrased summary of how the situation unfolded.
3) Acknowledgement of the problem experienced by the customer.
4) Care taken to avoid excuses that could be construed as putting the organisation's interests before the customer's needs.
5) Keep in mind your organisation's customer service moto, such as “the customer is always right”.
6) Apologise for the inconvenience experienced by the customer, even if it appears to be the customer's fault.
7) If it is clearly the organisation's fault, ask the customer for forgiveness.
8) Assure the customer that your organisation will try to ensure that the situation will not occur again.
9) As restitution, in addition to replacing the faulty product, send the customer a gift or give them a discount on one of your products.
10) State that your organisation would very much like to maintain a good business relationship with the customer, and looks forward to doing business with them in the future.
A respectful and considerate tone goes a long way to rebuilding a damaged relationship.
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