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Feb 1, 2023


How to write effective delay emails with 8 samples & template

Delays cause disruption, but ignoring them can cause even more damage. Here are 10 essential tips for writing effective delay emails with 8 examples.

Blog writer

Lawrie Jones


Blog writer

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Delays cause disruption, but ignoring them can damage relationships.

So as soon as you're aware of a delay that affects a client, customer, or colleague, you must advise them as quickly as possible. That's the first (and most important) lesson on how to write effective delay emails.

Timing is critical, but you must also strike the right tone and use the correct format.

Don't worry; in this guide on advising of a delay, we will show you how. We provide 10 essential tips for writing effective delay emails and illustrate them with 8 examples.

How to write an email to explain a delay

When you become aware of a delay, take ownership of the problem – it's what your customers expect and deserve.

Remember that even if the delay isn't your fault, it's your job to solve the problem and sort out the mess.

Here are 10 tips for writing effective emails to explain a delay:

  1. Start by explaining there's a delay. Your customers and clients will respect you if you provide a clear explanation of what has caused the delay.
  2. Apologize for the delay and any inconvenience the delay may cause.
  3. Take ownership of the situation. Customers don't like it when you blame others, so explain the problem and reassure them that you're managing this.
  4. Be transparent about problems. If you've made a mistake, then admit it. This demonstrates empathy and understanding.
  5. Set out timelines for solutions and ensure you can stick to them. A first delay is understandable, but subsequent setbacks can damage your reputation. Be sure to send regular timeline updates, especially if things change.
  6. If you can't solve the problem (or supply a product or service), suggest alternative solutions – even if that means pushing customers to competitors.
  7. Promise this won't happen again (and ensure it doesn't!)
  8. Consider offering compensation such as a future discount, if your delay impacts your customer's business.
  9. When writing, use clear subject lines and set a professional tone of voice. Always address the person professionally, and stay formal and don’t get too friendly.
  10. Be prepared for your email to be shared and the details to be pored over.

Following this essential advice should help you create professional and personal emails that protect your relationship.

8 delay email examples

We're all about showing, not telling, so here we provide 8 example emails to put these principles into practice. It's about being proactive in your communication and providing transparent information. In each example, we provide an explanation of the cause of the delay and its expected duration.

These examples are a great way to bring concepts to life, but you should always edit and adapt them to describe your situation and solution.

1. Expect a delay email sample

Sometimes you'll be able to give customers an early warning of a delay in communication or the delivery of a product or service.

Advanced notice enables the person to put plans in place, so send this email about an expected delay as soon as possible.

Hi (Recipient's name),

I understand that you are waiting on an email response from me. Unfortunately, I have to take leave for a couple of days (or any other reason why you can't respond), so please expect a delay in my response to your email.

I will deal with your query immediately when I return on (insert date).

Thank you for being so patient.

Kind regards,
(Your name)

2. Email apologizing for a delay sample

If the delay is going to have an impact on the customer, you should always offer a sincere apology. A core part is taking responsibility for the delay and committing to finding a resolution.

You may also want to provide compensation for any inconvenience caused.

Hi (Recipient's name),

Please accept my apologies for the delay you have experienced. I want to express our regret for the situation and reassure you that we are doing everything possible to rectify it.

The delay was caused by (explain reasons).

Unfortunately, this was out of our control – but we have implemented plans to minimize its impact. We propose to (list what you're going to do).

On this occasion, we understand we've not achieved the standards of service we should deliver. We want to offer you a discount on your next order. (Add details)

We hope you will continue to be a valued customer.
(Your name)

3. Delay in the hiring process email template

Sometimes the recruitment timeline can become stretched, mainly when you're dealing with sending feedback to a large number of applicants.

An email explaining a delay in the recruitment process provides an essential update and clarity on the next steps. In this example, we provide an updated schedule for interviews.

Hi (Recipient's name),

Thank you for applying for the (job name) role.

We are sorry for the delay in processing your application and advising you of the outcome.

The response to the advert was greater than anticipated, and we are still working through applications. We guarantee that you will receive an update by (insert date).

I appreciate your patience as we resolve this as quickly as possible.
(Your name)

4. Shipment delay email to customer sample

It can be frustrating to hear of a shipment delay, but keeping customers up-to-date with product delivery status is a core part of your job. Whatever the cause of the delays, it's essential to provide a revised delivery date and update the logistics information.

We've even added space for a discount code as compensation for any inconvenience.

Hi (Recipient's name),

Unfortunately, I'm writing to inform you that shipping for your order (number and product name) has been delayed.

The delay has been caused by (insert reason). We are working to fix the problem and aim to ship your order on (date).

We apologize for the delay and reassure you that we are doing everything possible to complete your order as soon as we can.

We'll be in touch with an updated delivery timeline. I appreciate your patience; we'd like to offer you 10% off your next order. To access this discount, use the order code (code) when you checkout.

Many thanks,
(Your name)

5. Apologies for the delay in payment email sample

Payment delays are a big problem; you must always explain why immediately. In this example, we describe the reason for the payment delay and give an updated payment schedule.

Payment holdups can disrupt operations and impact relationships, so it's vital to commit to settling your debts in the future and suggest a solution to avoid future delays.

Hi (Recipient's name),

I want to personally apologize for the delay in payment for (order, item, etc.)

We are working hard to rectify the problem and should be able to make payment on (insert date).

We recognize this is unacceptable and assure you that we are putting plans in place to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

We will process the payment on (date). Please confirm when you have received the payment.

Kind regards,
(Your name)

6. Sample email to manager for a delay in a project

For many of us, project delays are a part of business – but that excuse won't work with your boss!

In this email explaining the reasons for a project delay, we identify the roadblocks and barriers and provide a revised project timeline for completion. We love bullet points, so we've used them to detail our action plan to meet deadlines!

Hi (Recipient's name),

I"ve been working hard to deliver (project name), but I have experienced some delays which will impact delivery.

Some of the issues I've experienced include (details).

I've developed a plan to deal with these roadblocks, including:
  • Add bullet points
I will keep you updated on progress and aim to deliver the final report on (insert date).

If you have any questions or concerns about this, please let me know, and we can arrange a time to discuss them.
(Your name)

7. Delay in delivery email template

Several reasons can cause delivery delays – but there's one solution: an email explaining why. The person will know that the item (or items) are delayed, but you should aim to provide a delivery status update, including a revised delivery date.

While it's not a good look to start blaming others, it can help to give a short explanation of the cause of any delay – as we have done here!

Hi (Recipient's name),

We have received notification from our delivery partner that there has been a delay to your order (order number and name).

We apologize for the delay and any inconvenience that this may cause you. The delay was caused by (insert information here).

We are working to find a solution and will be in touch as soon as we have arranged a new delivery time slot.

(Your name)

8. Apology email to a client for a delay in service

If you can't deliver a service at the agreed date and time, you should provide a status update as soon as possible. Use this client delay email sample to do it.

We start with an acknowledgement of the delay and by offering a sincere apology. Then, commit to delivering a timely resolution and provide a timeline. It's about keeping the client as happy as possible despite delays.

Hi (Recipient's name),

I"m contacting you to advise that there will be a delay in our delivery of (service details). This has been caused by (insert details).

As soon as we became aware of the delays, we put plans in place to minimize disruption. As a result, today, I can confirm the following date for delivery (provide a time and date or a timeline if it involves multiple steps).

All of us (company name) apologize for the delay. We want to offer you a discount of (% or $) on your recent order. We hope that this will go

We're committed to delivering the highest standard of services. While we haven't lived up to expectations this time, we hope that you will continue to work with us.

Yours sincerely,
(Your name)

Apologize for a delay email template

If your delay doesn't fit into any of these categories, or you want to adapt the format for your circumstances, then use this apology for a delay email template.

You can cut and paste this template and fill out the gaps to ensure you're creating professional emails with a personal touch.

Hi (Recipient's name),

I'm contacting you to apologize for the delay in (delivering a service, product, etc.)

The delay was caused by (insert reasons).

We recognize that we haven't met your expectations and are working as hard as possible to solve these problems.

I can provide a timeline of the steps we are following to provide a solution.
  • Bullet points are a great way to introduce a list.
We regret the impact this delay may have on you (or your business). To say sorry, we're prepared to offer you (a discount, cashback, free product etc.) If you would like to take advantage of this offer, please (insert information).

Once again, please accept our apologies for this delay. Rest assured; we are doing everything we can to solve it.

Kind regards,
(Your name)

Delay email template with Flowrite

Writing delay emails can sometimes be tough. We naturally don't want to

If you're having trouble writing the right words in a delay email, try Flowrite.

Our email assistant can complete your instructions into ready-to-send emails, with perfect grammar and professional format.

It's helpful in those situations when you don't know how to best put your thoughts into words.

Final words

We all know that delays can happen, and is most situations this will not be a problem. It's, however, problematic if you delay taking appropriate action and don't promptly update relevant people of the delay.

Keep your customers, clients, and colleagues informed and up-to-date with solutions, and you'll keep them on your side. Sketch out the timeline and always provide a solution!

Get all that right, and you'll protect your relationships and, in some cases, can even strengthen them.

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