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How to Apologize to a Client? 6 Key Tips

18 minutes

Coordonatrice marketing chez InputKit | Les communications, ça me parle! ✨

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It’s inevitable: sooner or later, a mistake will be made within your company and it will create customer dissatisfaction. Mastering how to apologize to a client will save you at these crucial moments and allows you to rectify the situation brilliantly! Mistakes are human, everyone makes them. However, not everyone knows how to properly apologize to a client after a bad experience.

Discover our 6 valuable tips on the subject to be well-prepared when the time comes to apologize to a client after a mistake has been made.

Download now: FREE FRENCH EBOOK 13 online review response templates (positive and negative)

Why is it important to apologize to a client?

Acknowledging mistakes and offering a sincere apology when a mistake has been made demonstrates the honesty and transparency of your company. These are two essential characteristics that pay off in customer satisfaction! In fact, according to The Carey School of Business, 37% of dissatisfied customers are satisfied when they receive compensation for the inconvenience. On the other hand, if the company apologizes in addition to offering compensation, the satisfaction level increases to 74%! Apologizing to an unhappy customer strengthens customer loyalty and ensures a high level of satisfaction.

Here are 5 good reasons why it’s important to apologize to a client after they had a bad experience:

1. Decrease in the lifetime value of a client if lost

If a customer has had a bad experience and you don’t take care of their dissatisfaction, chances are they won’t do business with your company anymore. Their lifetime value will drastically decrease as that customer will be lost. Taking the time to apologize to a client for a bad experience is a retention strategy that pays off! In fact, according to Invesp, acquiring new customers is 5 times more expensive than retaining your current customers.

2. Avoiding negative word-of-mouth

When dissatisfaction is expressed, it is important to act quickly to prevent negative word-of-mouth from spreading. Did you know that on average 72% of consumers tell their friends and family about their experience? This number is even higher when it’s a bad experience! When someone experiences dissatisfaction, they speak with their emotions and want to be heard, which is why it’s important to apologize to a client when a mistake has been made that has clouded their experience.

3. Avoiding negative online reviews

Online reviews are more popular than ever: accessible from anywhere at any time, they are the perfect reference for consumers shopping for a new service nearby. For this reason, it’s essential to respond promptly and apologize to a client who reports having a bad experience. When responding to a negative review, it’s important to apologize in your reply and take the discussion elsewhere.

Free french EBook 13 online response templates (positive and negative)

4. Sign of respect

Taking ownership of your mistakes and apologizing to a customer when a mistake has been made is a sign of respect for the customer. It is important to show empathy for their situation when you apologize to a client because it shows the customer that you value and respect them as human beings. It proves they are not just a file number to you. Keep in mind that an apology acts as a courtesy when a customer is unhappy.

A bad customer experience is inevitable, so be sure to treat your customers with respect when it happens to rectify it and retain your valuable customers!

5. To maintain a good employer brand

The employer brand image that you project is essential, it is not only your customers who are watching your reputation on the web: your future talents too!

Imagine this scenario: you finally find the right person for the position you’ve been looking to fill for several weeks. You call this person back after an interview to offer them the position. They tell you that they must decline your offer. This refusal triggers your curiosity and you ask them why they are no longer interested in the position. The person replies that they have investigated your company’s reputation on the web and what they found does not correspond with their values, that they do not want to be associated with this employer brand.

Your employer brand is very important: both for the talent you want and for the talent you already have. If the reflection of your brand is negative, it will impact the morale of your employees who are directly associated with it. For these reasons, it is important to apologize to a client when dissatisfaction is raised to have the most positive brand image possible.

How to apologize to a client?

It’s not easy to apologize to a client after they’ve had a bad experience, it’s an art in itself. . A simple “I’m sorry, Mr. Customer” is not enough to defuse the situation and be forgiven. Your apology must be personalized and felt to regain the customer’s trust.

Discover now our 6 tips to master the art of apologizing to a client:

1. Apologize and validate the client’s emotions

Empathy, when you apologize to a client, is of the utmost importance. You must put yourself in the customer’s shoes to understand how they feel about the situation and validate their emotions. Empathizing with your customer will allow you to offer a sincere apology because you will understand why you are apologizing and what harm the situation may have caused your customer. Validating the customer’s emotions builds trust, as you are showing them that their dissatisfaction is justified and that you are sorry that the situation occurred.

2. Summarize the situation

In order to fully understand the magnitude of the situation, you need to be empathetic, but you also need to be able to explain to the customer what happened. You cannot apologize to a client without reiterating the facts that caused the dissatisfaction.

Summarizing the situation when you apologize reassures the customer that you are handling the situation. It tells them that you recognize the problem and that it will be resolved as quickly as possible. It also gives them confidence that the situation will not happen again. Summarizing the situation by acknowledging your wrongdoing is an excellent retention strategy. According to Huntswood, the customer retention rate of companies that apologize and admit they are wrong is 17% higher than companies that do not.

3. Keep a polite and courteous tone

When you have to apologize to a client, you need to know how to apologize professionally. To apologize professionally, you must keep a polite and courteous tone and you must avoid confrontation. Above all, do not take criticism personally. Your mistakes do not define you as a person! If the situation affects you, take a step back and let the dust settle before contacting the customer.

This will allow you to take a professional approach when it comes time to apologize. Avoid being defensive and blaming your colleagues, even if you are not the person who made the mistake. Blaming others is not a good way to apologize to a client and does not reflect a professional attitude.

Remain polite and courteous throughout the conversation, pay attention to what the customer has to say and ask for forgiveness for any inconvenience the situation has caused.

4. Clearly explain what the next steps will be to solve the problem

Once you have validated the customer’s emotions, summarized the situation to ensure you are on the same page and have professionally formulated an apology, it is now time to solve the problem! It’s important to apologize to a client but it’s even more important to make sure you resolve the issue. This is a crucial step in the apology process as it ensures that the situation will not reoccur and allows the client to have confidence in your solution.

Discuss the situation with your team so that you can put in place solutions to address the issue. Be transparent with the customer: explain how you will solve the problem and talk about the resolution plan. This will demonstrate that you have really looked into the problem and want to resolve it. Why not take the opportunity to thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention? Indeed, their intervention allows you to correct one of your shortcomings! By thanking them, they will feel involved in the resolution process and this will strengthen the relationship you have with them.

5. Offer a little extra to win back the customer’s trust

The fact that you apologize to a client is good, but offering compensation on top of that is better! Be careful: compensation will never replace a sincere apology. However, offering a little extra shows your gratitude to the customer. Let them know that you appreciate their patience and understanding of the problem by offering compensation.

When you offer compensation to your client, it is important to do so proactively. That is to say, you must offer it without the customer having to ask for it, this initiative must come from you! This way, the customer’s trust will be regained and they will be delighted to receive compensation as a thank you.

6. Make sure you educate your teams to prevent it from happening again

When a mistake has been made, and you have looked into the situation and found solutions to prevent it from happening again, you need to share it with your colleagues. Communication within a company is essential! Explain the problem to your teams and tell them how you were able to solve it. Your teams will be better equipped to understand your problem-solving process. In addition, they will be more autonomous and confident when dealing with a problematic situation.

Free french EBook 13 online response templates (positive and negative)

Practical ways to apologize

There are a variety of ways to apologize to a client. Discover 4 methods of apologizing to a customer so you can choose the best one for the situation!

By email

S'excuser par courrielA polite apology via email is a versatile method that can be used in a variety of scenarios. It is the preferred method in many cases, especially if you are directly responsible for the mistake. It is the least confrontational method.


  • The email allows you to get right to the point, offering a formal and uncluttered apology.
  • Writing an apology email allows you to take the time to find the right words to express yourself in a polite and courteous manner.
  • An email allows you to keep a record of the discussion.


  • With email, you can’t hear the voice of the person you are talking to. It is therefore difficult to grasp the exact tone of the person who wrote the email: there is an ambiguity linked to the tone.
  • An email is neutral, there is no human touch and this can create a distance for the person who receives it.

Example of an appropriate response via email

“Hello [client name],

I am sorry to hear [reiterate the mistake that was made], this situation is unacceptable. I sincerely regret that this has happened. I take full responsibility for it and I would like to apologize to you for any harm this may have caused you.

In all honesty, this is what happened: [summarize the situation that caused the error]. I want you to know that I will do everything in my power to ensure that this is resolved quickly. I will ensure that this situation does not happen again.

I want to thank you for bringing this situation to my attention. Thanks to you, I have become aware of this deficiency and it will be corrected promptly.

Please know that I remain at your complete disposal. Please do not hesitate to contact me if there is anything I can do.

[your signature]

By phone

When you take the phone to apologize to a client, it creates a WOW effect. It shows your customer that you take their complaint seriously and that you are willing to do everything possible to resolve the situation.


  • Hearing the other person’s voice adds a human touch.
  • It allows you to discuss the situation in detail.


  • Over the phone, you can’t see the other person’s non-verbal language.
  • Telephone conversations do not leave a written record.

Example of an appropriate response via telephone:

“Hello [customer name], this is [your first name] from [company name]. Do you have a few moments to spare for me? I would like to discuss [the situation that caused the dissatisfaction].

Thank you for taking the time to discuss the situation with me. First, I would like to offer my sincerest apologies for [situation that caused the displeasure]. I regret that this has occurred and would like to discuss this with you to clarify the situation and to ensure that it does not happen again.

At the end of your conversation
I sincerely thank you for bringing this situation to my attention and for your time today. I will ensure that this is corrected promptly and will keep you informed of developments.

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance to you in any way.”

In response to an online review

It is very important to apologize to a client who has left a negative review on your business page. Indeed, you should not leave this type of review unanswered, otherwise, customers who search for you on the web will feel that you do not take complaints seriously and that customer satisfaction is not your priority.


  • Responding to a negative review demonstrates your willingness to rectify the situation when dissatisfaction is raised.
  • This allows you to explain yourself and restore your reputation.


  • It doesn’t allow you to go into detail, to fully clarify the situation.
  • If the situation escalates, other consumers can read the conversation, which is bad for your brand image.
  • You can’t completely resolve the situation, there is a need to continue the discussion elsewhere.

Example of an appropriate response to an online review:

[customer name], thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us. I am very sorry to hear that your experience did not meet your expectations. I would like to discuss this with you in order to correct the situation and find a solution to ensure your complete satisfaction. I will contact you in the next few days.
[Your signature]

In person

If the situation allows, make it a priority to apologize in person! When you apologize to a client face-to-face, you avoid any ambiguity about whether your apology was received.


  • S'excuser en personneThe human touch in face-to-face discussions.
  • Having access to the non-verbal language of your interlocutor allows you to adjust your speech accordingly.
  • It allows you to be more reactive during the exchange.
  • It allows you to create a bond with the client.


  • There may be a danger of escalation.
  • There is no record of a face-to-face discussion.

Example of an appropriate face-to-face response:

” Hello [client name], thank you for agreeing to meet with me today to discuss the situation. First, I would like to offer my sincerest apologies for the error we made. This discussion will allow me to be more enlightened regarding this deficiency in our service that I wish to correct quickly.”

When it’s time to apologize to a client, don’t forget to take the time to thank them for their valuable time. This time will allow you to rectify the situation and improve the services you offer daily.

Now that you’ve discovered the best ways to apologize to a client, you should keep in mind why it’s important to do so.

Taking the time to apologize to a client is important to avoid losing them and to prevent them from spreading negative comments about your company through word-of-mouth or online reviews that could tarnish your employer’s brand. It also shows respect for the customer.

Apologizing to the customer involves validating their emotions, empathizing with their situation, being polite and courteous, and explaining what you will do to solve the problem. Sometimes compensation may be appropriate to regain the customer’s trust.

To summarize, here is a short video that reiterates the key elements of apologizing and the importance of doing so:

In conclusion, even if you know everything about how to apologize to a client and are prepared to handle dissatisfaction, why not measure your customer experience? This will allow you to act quickly when dissatisfaction is detected and to improve your services!

13 online review response templates (positive and negative)

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