Customer service emails can seem straightforward. You receive a customer query or complaint, you craft a resolution, write your response, and you move on. However, email communication is not without its dangers. It can be easy to misinterpret tone, succinct responses can be seen as curt, and simple mistakes like writing “Dear Mr. Customer” when the person is actually a “Ms. Customer” can open a Pandora’s box of problems. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you craft your service emails to help minimize the chances of inadvertently offending a customer.
Use Friendly Greetings & Closings
One of the great benefits of email is that it is viewed as an informal medium. There is not really a need to use formalities such as “Dear” in your salutation. Approachable greetings like “Hi,” or, “Hello” can create the feeling that you treat the customer like a friend. Follow up your salutation with something conversational like, “I hope you are having a fantastic weekend.” However, keep in mind that a very angry customer may not be having a fantastic weekend, so use company guidelines and common sense when greeting a customer in an email.
Similarly, you don’t need to use “Sincerely” to close out your email, unless it is company policy. If you are allowed to use discretion, try something different. Some people might interpret “Sincerely” as cold, pretentious, or even condescending. You can try phrases like, “I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening,” or “Speak to you soon,” or “Your trusted representative.”
Make No Assumptions
Do not assume to know anything about a customer, even if you have demographic data on your screen. Making assumptions about a person’s gender, age, ethnicity, marital status, family status, income, interests, etc., can land you in hot water if you end up being incorrect. Even if you are trying to establish rapport, keep assumptions out of the interaction.
Add a Personal Touch
Sometimes you have to use a canned response to a customer. Most people are savvy enough to spot these the instant they see them. If you must use the scripted email, make sure to personalize it as much as possible so that the customer feels heard and valued. For example, if the script reads, “I am sorry to hear about your problem with XYZ Product,” get permission to write something like, “I am very sorry to hear that XYX Product stopped working for you while you were on vacation, making it impossible to replace quickly.”
As with any customer service interaction, treat people the way you would want to be treated. Even when you take every precaution, there may be times when you accidentally offend someone, but if you are polite, conversational and address their issue with empathy and specificity, you’re far less likely to step on someone’s toes.
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