This is a picture of Simon Webbe, copywriter.

You might know him as Simon Webbe, seminal – perhaps most seminal member – of boyband Blue. But I know him for who he really is: a copywriter, at the top of his game, using beautiful music to dispense advice on writing.  

I’ve known this ever since he sung these words:

Sorry seems to be the hardest word. (Key thesis, 0:56.)

And now I extra-know it. Because recently I’ve spent a good few weeks in and around some pretty gnarly customer journeys. So I get what Simon’s on about.

Copywriting, courtesy, apologising… it’s hard. It’s not like a face-to-face thing: you can’t just contort a smile and smudge on a bit of blusher. You need to weigh your words… go for something a bit poli(gh)ter.

You can do this in all sorts of ways and voices. But as a basis, here’s three bits of advice:


Never say sorry

Unless it actually was your fault.


Sorry for the inconvenience, Tom, but we think you got your card details wrong.


Tom: we think you got your card details wrong.

It’s more up-front. Less plodding. There’s no false courtesy.  


Please is not the magic word

Forget what your mum told you.

Please can you try re-entering them by clicking this link.


Can you try re-entering them?

It’s a no-brainer: perkier, no ‘please’, still polite.


Don’t always say thanks

It can sound presumptive, a bit terse. Instead of:


Company name

Try ending on:

Just click this link.

It’s twenny seventeen. Do you even need a formal signoff?


All together now

Tom: we think you got your card details wrong.

Can you try re-entering them?

Just click this link.

Speedy. Simple. Nice. For more advice: @simonwebbe1