The essence of a letter is that it should contain not only the apology but also an explanation of how or why the situation has arisen, together with an assurance that steps are being taken to put the matter right.Imagine that you are the Assistant Manager in a furniture store and have received a telephone call from a customer who ordered a dining-room sute ten weeks ago and has not heard from you since. The suite was not delivered on the date promised, and obviously the customer is very angry. After assuring him that you will investigate the situation immediately, you check all the relevant documents and discover that the table was damaged in transit between the factory and your warehouse and replacement was ordered. Owing to an oversight in the office, no letter of explanation was sent to the customer to inform him that delivery would be delayed. You feel that a letter of apology must go out immediately in an attempt to regain the goodwill of the customer. The main body of a suitable communication is given below.
Dear Mr. Mishra
Thank you for you telephone call on 10th May, drawing my attention to the fact that we failed to delivery your dining-room sute on the stipulated date. We apologies for the inconvenience this must have caused. The problem has arisen because of an incident in transit between the factory and our warehouse when the table belonging to your suite was damaged. Obviously, we could not deliver it to your in that condition, and so a replacement was ordered immediately. Unfortunately, as we have had number of clerical staff taking sick-leaving during the last few weeks, the urgent need for a letter of explanation to your was overlooked, and so the problem was compounded.
I regret that there will be a delay of a further two weeks before we can deliver the complete suite, but in the circumstances we feel that the least we can do is to waive the Rs. 300/- delivery charges. I enclose a cheque for that amount, and hope this will go some way in compensating for the inconvenience you have suffered. May I apologies once again for our oversight, and assure you that we shall contact you immediately when your suite arrives, in order to arrange a new delivery date.
- The letter is not over-apologetic, but clearly conveys the fact that you accept responsibility for what has happened and are doing everything possible to put matters right.
- Paragraph 1 employees a useful device for apology letters - thanking the complainant for bringing the situation to your attention. This shows that you are concerned about customer relations and serves to reassure him that he has not been deliberately cheated.
- Paragraph 2 states how the situation has arisen and attempts to explain that the circumstances which led to the administrative oversight were exceptional. i.e. implying that such mistakes do not normally happen.
- Paragraphs 3 and 4 clarify the action you have taken, make, a gesture to the customer in order to retain his goodwill, and repeat your apology.
It can be useful to adopt a standard paragraphing plan for letters of apology in order to make your task easier:
Paragraph 1 : Reference to source of complain; thanks for bringing it to your notice; simple apology if circumstance make it appropriate.
Paragraph 2 : Credible explanation of why the problem has arisen.
Paragraph 3 : Statement of the action you are taking to put matters right.
Paragraph 4 : Conclusion and formal apology.