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The Ultimate Apology Email Checklist

You’re only human, and so someday, you might make a mistake. It’s okay; it happens to the best of us.

We all know how difficult it is to make amends after we go wrong somehow.

That said, owning up to your goof-ups is important.

In personal relations and in business, you want to make things right as soon as possible, and that means turning to the tried and true apology email.

In today’s concise guide, we’ll discuss which situations warrant an apology email and how to write a no-nonsense, authentic one.

Let’s begin!

When Do You Need to Write an Apology Email?

Let’s go over some situations that require an apology.

Your server had technical issues

You might issue this email to your customers if they couldn’t access your services for any length of time.

apology email example from Chanel
Source: Mailup

In the email, you’d acknowledge that you quickly became aware of the outage, determined its cause, and worked to restore service as fast as you could.

Read also: How to Send Out Thank You For Your Order Email (Examples & Templates)

Your product/service didn’t work

Did you promise a fantastic product or service, but it failed to live up to your customer’s expectations due to a malfunction or other issues?

That’s another situation that calls for a short but sincere apology email.

Sorry GIF
Source: Giphy

You should also include the next steps to rectify the issue, such as sending the customer a new product/service, repair options, or refunding them their money.

You addressed the wrong person in an email

This one has happened to us all at some time or another. Whether you meant to address a certain customer or a coworker and instead mentioned someone else, it warrants an apology.

Ignoring a blunder like this can cause communication issues, and may lead to bigger problems. Also, ignoring the gaffe can make the other person’s feelings seem invalid, so you don’t want to do that. Rather, you should send a brief email apologizing for the mix-up.

This should smooth over any possible negative feelings that might have begun to bubble up.

Read also: Email Copywriting 101: Tips to Craft High-Converting Email Copy

You blanked on an assignment

Talking about internal work issues now, if life stresses have got you so burnt out that you totally forgot you had to do something, you have to say something about it.

Don’t linger too much on the whys, only what you’ll do to get the work on your boss’ desk. The sooner you can do it, the better!

You submitted your work late

Perhaps you were aware you had an assignment, but you ran out of time to get it done. You didn’t want to log overtime hours and go against company policy, so you turned the project in a day late.

This type of apology is worth a brief explanation so your boss understands why your assignment was tardy. Then say sorry.

Read also: Kind Regards: How to Nail your Email Signature

How to Write an Apology Email: A Useful Checklist

You know you goofed up and have to apologize, but you’ve never written an apology email before, and you have no idea where to start.

Fortunately, it needn’t be difficult. These tips will help you write an apology email that doesn’t grovel or ask for sympathy but gets straight to the point.

Sorry image
Source: The Independent

→ Own up to it

It doesn’t matter if you were working on a project with someone else. If you were the one who had to turn it in on time and you didn’t, then you’re at fault. End of story.

Tips for writing late apology letter
Source: TheBalance

That’s also true if you’re the marketing manager or the customer service manager. If your team caused a problem, you have to be accountable for it.

Don’t say “we” did this or “we” did that. Bring it down to yourself and say “I” did this and that “I” am sorry.

Shifting blame to someone else is not going to reduce your punishment or improve your reputation.

It makes you look cowardly. Your boss or your customers will see right through your email, and they will think less of you for it.

Taking ownership isn’t easy, but it’s what you have to do. Someone has to be the face of the problem, and that is you.

Read also: Should You Use Emojis in Email Subject Lines?

Apologize at the start of the email

If you’re writing a multi-paragraph email, your apology shouldn’t be buried somewhere towards the end.

You want to put it out there as soon as you can.

How do you apologize exactly? Well, you can simply say, “I apologize for” or “I’m sorry about …”

You can also say, “please accept my apologies for” or “I sincerely apologize about …”

Don’t make excuses or ask for sympathy

You must explain what went wrong. Otherwise, it’s unclear what you’re apologizing about, which renders the whole apology email ineffective.

However, you get that sentence and maybe a few follow-up sentences. That’s it.

You do not want to begin making excuses or look for pity. If you say something like, “I’m sorry our company had an outage for two hours yesterday. We’ve told IT about this for months, but they haven’t done anything about it,” you’re going to look horrible.

You’re throwing IT under the bus and going against the first tip, which is to take responsibility.

Your customers don’t care why something happened, and neither does your boss. They just want to know what you’re going to do about it.

That brings us to our next point…

👉Want to apologize to your customers in a more genuine and effective way? Learn the right way to say ‘sorry for the inconvenience‘ from our detailed guide.

Offer to make restitutions

As soon as you’re done apologizing, you need to come up with an option for fixing the problem. It’s not enough to say, “we’ll come up with a way to fix this soon.” You need a solution now.

If you don’t yet have a solution, then don’t send the apology email until you do.

Tips for writing proper apology letter
Source: Deliver2inbox

That doesn’t mean you should sit and ponder for days, as time is of the essence when it comes to an apology email. You do want to plan for an hour or two about how you can correct the issue.

It’s worth taking that time if you can come up with a concise solution.

Keep it short and sweet

Your apology email is not a writing assignment. Remember, you’re not writing an essay here.

You’re discussing the issue, taking responsibility, apologizing, and offering a fix or compensation. That shouldn’t take you 500 words.

Red also: How To Write Discount Emails Like A Boss


Writing an apology email takes guts, but it’s what you have to do at times. Now that you know how to structure your email, you can apologize whenever you make a serious error!

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👉Looking to save time and boost your results? Use our guide “15 Introduction Email Templates That Work Like A Charm” to streamline your email communication. 🏆

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