Email etiquette is an important aspect of customer support, especially in the virtual world where most interactions are done online through email rather than in person. Though it’s easy to ignore these rules of email etiquettes when you’re dealing with people who aren’t your co-workers, if you’re not careful it can easily come across as rude and demeaning to your customer, causing them to dislike you before you’ve even started dealing with their problem.
Here are ten rules every customer support agent should have when it comes to how they handle their email conversations with customers:
Always be friendly
It’s easy to be polite in person; it’s much harder to maintain that level of politeness over email, particularly when you deal with challenging customers. But if you can manage it, your customers will appreciate your efforts. It also helps avoid unnecessary confrontations down the road—particularly when things go wrong, which they inevitably do. Read your emails once before sending them so that they don’t sound robotic or sarcastic. Sometimes, we do not realize, however, the email we have written is correct as per the process but sounds very sarcastic when you read it. So be careful before hitting send.
Mention the Past, Present, and Future in a conversation
Past – is why this problem happened in the first place. Present – is what is the current status of your situation. Future – is what needs to be done now ( either the cx needs to sit tight or you can ask for further evidence to research or you can take action, etc. ). Whether or not you can help resolve their issue, your response shows that you’re paying attention and care about solving issues.
Do not make negative comments and also do not apologize unnecessarily
The customers always try to point out flaws in your products and services. It is better to thank them for pointing it out and offer a solution or alternate option. There will be times when apologizing is just not necessary so don’t do it. It seems very pitiful on the company’s end. Try to use the words frustrating and upsetting to a minimum as they also have a negative impact on the customer. They are strong words and can provoke an emotion even if it is not there.
Empathize with the customer
Customer service is all about dealing with people, so it’s not surprising that one of its biggest tips are centered around empathy. What do I mean by empathy? It means being able to identify with someone else’s situation.
You can use lines like – “ I understand where you are coming from…” or “I know this is upsetting, however, I’ll do my best to get this resolved for you…” or “ I know that this is something you were not expecting to happen…” or “I believe that we can fix this together…” or “I understand that we cannot do much at the moment but it was never our intention to…” or “ Let me try and help you with this and I hope everything will work out fine…”
Personalize your emails
Some companies use canned responses or macros, etc in order to help the agents reply to the customer easily and also help them save time, however, it is important that you personalize your emails as anyone would love to read an email that is addressed to them and sounds like a real person has written it rather than a canned response addressed to a customer – “Dear Customer,…” vs “Dear Margaret,…”. This makes it easier for people to trust your business—and helps you build loyalty among your customer base.
Focus on the positive
No one likes to hear bad news however, sometimes it is necessary to tell the customer the truth which the customer might not like. Hence, when you have to give a response, try and think of something positive you can give to the customer along with the bad news in order to cheer them up a little bit. Showing the bright side of things can have a major impact on customers. People tend to understand your position as well when you are transparent with them and either give them alternatives or politely ask them to wait for a while till you resolve the problem faced by the customer.
Try not to generalize criticism
Every customer is different and might understand certain things differently. This is why it’s important to try and explain things differently each time a customer comes back for the same issue. The customer might not be an expert in the subject and might need some more guidance, telling the exact same thing over and over again can sound a lot like sarcasm and the customer might feel that the company thinks they are dumb.
Try to simplify things for the customer rather than making them more confusing.
The role of customer support agents is to provide assistance and help to the customers. Yet, sometimes we make everything more complicated than they actually are. The primary goal is to simplify things for the customer and this can be done by providing them with the correct information in a clear and concise manner.
Even a slight mistake in writing can entirely change the meaning of an email. Use plain English instead of using jargon words which can confuse the customer.
Focus on answering questions instead of explaining everything at once
You may know more about your product or service than your customer, but you need to communicate in a way that they understand. Answer their questions – don’t give them all your information at once. Your customers will appreciate it more if you address their questions and concerns than if you just tell them everything that they need to know. This will help build trust and credibility with your customers.
Always ask if the customer needs any further assistance in your final response
Asking questions is a natural part of the customer service process and it’s your job to answer them. But how do you know when someone has had their fill? You can’t read their mind and they might not ask to speak to a manager. That’s why we recommend adding a note like “Let me know if I can assist you with anything else” to your responses, letting them know that they can ask more questions.
Some customers might feel uncomfortable to ask more questions if they have not received a proper response or if they are not satisfied with your response.
Tip for Agents:
Agents should save good emails so that they can use it multiple times in the future
When you create a good email with a lot of personalization and efforts, you should save it so that if a similar situation arises with a different customer you can use some of the personalization you used in your previously saved email. This will save you some time as well as reduce your effort to write a similar email right from the scratch.