How to Write an Apology Letter to a Customer
I feel icky writing this post.
Last week I had to practice what I teach.
My team enrolled a repeat client into our online De-escalation Academy, which we do every day for customers around the globe. But something went wrong. Instead of getting our standard welcome email with login details, each of the 51 employees was bombarded with around 70 emails, all featuring the same welcome!
I was confused and sat in disbelief. But this was real. And my client was not happy! Emails and calls started rolling in. We were accused of spamming people's inboxes. We looked entirely unprofessional.
I feel icky because I was tempted to classify the mishap as a glitch we couldn't control.
Actually, I initially thought it was a system glitch. But after two hours of conversations with our vendor, we learned that the root cause was a coding error by someone on my team.
And now, I, the Customer Service & De-escalation Expert, had to own my mistake and put my 3R De-escalation Method into practice.
What I FELT:
- Stunned, then confused.
- "Cut us some slack! It was a mistake!"
- I wanted to shrink and avoid the conflict.
What I DID:
- We jumped on a chat with the support team of our digital classroom vendor to learn what happened and why.
- We stopped the cycle of emails that kept shooting after our coding error.
- I called my client and left a voicemail.
- I followed up my voicemail explaining, "Here's what we know, here's what we've done, and here's what's next," the framework I teach in my de-escalation workshops.
- I stepped away, lit an incense stick, and meditated for 15 minutes.
- I recognized that our coding error was a massive inconvenience for my client.
- I wrote my client an official apology letter using the frameworks I teach in my workshops.
Here's the letter I sent my client:
The Customer Service "Expert" makes mistakes, too. I'll let you know how things pan out with my client in a future email. But I know one thing for sure: De-escalation is not easy.
Trusting my "Here's what we know, here's what we've done, and here's what's next" and outright apology frameworks help me regain goodwill.
For help with saying "I'm sorry" to customers and de-escalating intense interactions, check out my De-escalation Academy. (I promise we fixed the coding error!)
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