Customer Service Email
57% of customers don’t want phone support. They would prefer to contact companies via email, chat, or social media.
Can you blame them? In the FOMO age, no one wants to wait on hold when they could be working, SnapChatting, watching Netflix, listening to a podcast while hiking, or doing literally anything else.
It’s time to stop treating robust phone support as a selling point. If a company’s competitors can provide stellar online support — over email, live chat, or social media — they can expect their customer base to dwindle.
Amazon continues to gobble up eCommerce market share partially because of a fanatical dedication to customer service. This includes 24/7 email support with less than 24 hours’ response time. Customers have come to expect that they can default to the Amazon customer service email address if a package is missing or damaged, and they will receive prompt satisfaction. Amazon sellers and store-owners expect and receive this same level of service.
Smaller online retailers like zappos.com offer a popular chat support feature. These chat windows appear in the bottom-right of the screen for easy customer access, mimicking the function of Facebook Messenger. Some even auto-prompt customers to ask questions upon arrival to the site, encouraging them to ask questions, mimicking the behavior of an attentive salesperson in a retail store.
10 Tips for Sending Better Customer Service Emails
56% of customers reported satisfaction with a customer service email response time of 24 hours or less. Reduce that response time to one hour, and that number increases to 89% of customers. Provide speedy response, and you’ll make customers for life.
Bain & Co. notes that an increase in customer retention by 10% translates to an increased company valuation of 30%. There is a lot to be gained by snagging that extra market share.
On the flip side, fast customer service prevents every company’s worst fear — negative word of mouth. You don’t want a customer complaining in the heat of anger about your slow service on Facebook.
Thank the customer
You really should. Even customer complaints are an opportunity. They give you a chance to make a great impression. They may be pointing out a weakness that you can correct. That feedback from a customer who already put faith in you is worth a thousand market surveys.
Begin and end each customer service email graciously. The customer isn’t raining on your parade; he or she is doing you a favor. They are engaged with your business in a priceless way.
Deliver bad news first, good news second
“What do you want first? The good news, or the bad news?” Studies actually demonstrate a widespread preference for the latter. Four out of five people prefer to hear the bad news first. In face-to-face conversation we often screw this up, preferring for our own comfort to ease into the bad news. Take advantage of the impersonality of email to leverage this preference. Give them the medicine, then the spoonful of sugar.
Keep it short and sweet
Resist the temptation to show off with long explanations. You need to know why your product works. The customer just wants it to work as expected. Give them the minimum information they need for them to get back on track. At most, give them a few follow-up details if you can help prevent the problem from recurring.
Make it personal
You may not see their faces or hear their voices, but these are people who either gave you their money or are seriously considering it. Address them in your service emails by name. This gives the impression that you care about them as a customer and their specific issue, underlining your intent to right any wrongs.
Nothing demonstrates that you care for your customers like following up on purchases and service tickets. Email is the perfect, non-intrusive vehicle for follow-up. It doesn’t interrupt the customer’s day like a phone call. It serves as a timely reminder for the customer to remain engaged with your company and get the most out of their purchase.
Be casual and friendly
Even if the customer is being informal or unpleasant, maintain a light, chatty tone. This helps emphasize the feeling that despite the digital format, you are a real person able to offer them real support. A friendly attitude can help diffuse customer anger as well.
Use positive language
Don’t rise to the bait of a customer taking their day out on you. Many customers just want to be heard. If you take the time to understand their issue, their mood often brightens considerably. If you dish their negativity back to them, you only make it worse. You will probably lose them permanently and run the risk of them going public with their negative feedback on review sites or social media.
Keep it relentlessly positive. Make a challenge out of it — how sweet can you be to someone who is being a jerk? You can always block their email later.
Promise a result
This falls under the category of “doing good business.” If a customer has a problem, reassure them that it will be fixed. The buck stops with you. The whole reason you want to improve your customer service emails is that you want to provide better customer service. No one wants to have an email conversation with an empowerment failure — “I understand, sir, but there’s nothing I can do about that.”
If your service reps cannot solve a problem, figure out the architecture for them to escalate the ticket to someone who can. Remember, with each contact, the customer service clock resets. Whomever the ticket is escalated to had better be able to reply in under 24 hours as well … preferably under one hour!
10. Use canned expressions…to a point
Personalized responses are fantastic, but let’s be honest — many customer service emails merit identical responses. Remember, the faster you can reply, the more likely you are to wow the customer … provided the reply is relevant.
Carefully read the customer feedback and determine if your pre-prepared response is appropriate. Still, address the customer by name. If you want to experiment with auto-responders, tread carefully and set very narrow parameters (keywords like “forgot my password,” etc.) You don’t want the customer getting an answer to a question they didn’t ask. You’ll look inattentive.