How to Tell a Customer Their Order is Late [Templates and Tips]

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How to Tell a Customer Their Order is Late [Templates and Tips]

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How to explain a late delivery to a customer

A customer is asking for an update on their order, and you don’t have any good news. Orders may get delayed due to supplier problems, unexpected demand, or shipping issues.

What do you say, and how do you deliver the message? In this article, you will learn the best way to tell a customer an order they placed is delayed.


1. Don’t Make Excuses

Many suppliers make excuses when delivering bad news, but customers can sense an excuse from miles away. If the customer knew there was trouble at your company before they placed their order, it would be even worse if you made up reasons after the fact.

Customers want to know why things went wrong and what steps are being taken to prevent similar problems in the future. You do not need to explain every detail of your supply chain; give them enough information to let them trust that proper action is being taken.

2. Be Honest and forthcoming

Customers want to hear the truth without feeling like they are being deceived. When the customer asks about the order status, give them an honest and clear answer.

If you don’t have the information on hand, make an effort to find out and get back to them as soon as possible. If you do know, tell them and give a good explanation about what happened and why.

3. Don’t make promises you can’t keep

Customers do not want to hear empty promises about when they can expect their order. If you promise your customer one thing and it does not happen, the negative impacts on your business go beyond just this one customer.

Let’s say you place an order with a supplier who gives you a two-week shipping estimate. If they ship you your order after three weeks have passed, making promises about the original delivery date leaves you in a difficult position with this customer and future customers as well.

4. Apologize

Customers appreciate it when businesses take ownership to acknowledge a problem and apologize for it. A sincere apology goes a long way.

When you apologize, be sure to explain what caused the problem and how you are fixing it. If you have a process to get the customer their order as soon as possible, let them know about your plan moving forward.

5. Offer potential solutions

If there is a way, you can offer the customer some solution, such as a refund or compensation for their trouble. It will show them that you value their business and want to keep them as customers.

Offering a solution, such as free shipping, expedited delivery, or a discount, is an important step in delivering bad news. Customers need to know that their concerns are being heard and action is being taken to address the issues that caused the delay.

6. Follow up once the problem is resolved

As always, follow up with customers to make sure they know their order has arrived and that they’re satisfied. This ensures that you can maintain a healthy, happy customer relationship.

Following up shows the customer that you’re a reliable business that cares about their business and that their comments have been heard. It also allows you to find out how you can improve your customer service in the future.

7. Thank the customer for their patience

If you would like to thank them for their patience and communication, now is a good time to bring it up.

Thanking the customer is a great way to close the business transaction effectively and professionally.

Sample apology email to customer for delay in delivery

Here are three examples of apology emails you can customize and send to your customers to inform them of a late delivery.

Template 1:

Dear (name),

Thank you for placing an order with our store recently. We are sorry to inform you that your package shipped out three days later than expected due to issues within our supply chain. We would like to offer you a 20% discount on your next purchase as compensation for this mistake.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and ask that if there is anything else we can do, please let us know.


(Your name)

Template 2:

Dear (name),

I wanted to personally reach out and apologize for the experience you had with our company during your recent purchase from us. I understand that it was frustrating not having your product delivered in a timely manner, and I want to assure you that we have taken steps to improve our process moving forward.

I can offer you a 15% discount on your next purchase with us if that might help ease the hassle. I would also like to hear more about your experience to make improvements for the future, so please feel free to contact me anytime via email or phone.

Thank you for shopping at our store!

All the best,

(Your name)

Template 3:

Dear (name),

I want to take a moment and apologize for the experience you had during your recent purchase from us. It sounds like our delivery times were not as accurate as they should have been, which is unacceptable for us at (Store name).

In order to make up for this inconvenience, we would like to offer you 15% off of your next purchase with us. We understand that it may not completely make up for the frustration and appreciate any feedback you can provide to help us improve going forward.

We hope that a small discount will help regain your trust in our business and look forward to hearing from you sometime soon!


(Your name)

Template 4:

Hi (name),

Thank you for your email. I apologize for the trouble with your order not arriving on time and understand how frustrating that can be.

I have checked your order and discovered that your package was delayed because of supplier issues.

Unfortunately, this is something beyond our control. I would like to offer you a 10% discount on your next purchase as compensation for the inconvenience caused by this delay. Please let me know if you have any further questions or feedback.

Thank you for shopping at (Store name), and we hope to serve you again in the near future!


(Your name)

Tips for writing a late delivery message

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to apologize for a late delivery, there are a few things you can do to make the apology more effective. First, be sure to apologize specifically for the delay and explain why it occurred.

Next, offer some form of compensation or discount on future orders. Finally, ask for feedback from the customer so that you can improve your process for future deliveries. Thanking the customer at the end of your message is always good practice!

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