Regardless of industry, customer service is always one of the most important aspects of running a successful business.
Not only does excellent customer service set you apart from your competition, but it also helps you to improve customer retention rates while extracting the maximum value from each of your engagements. On top of this, it’s estimated to take 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience, so it’s definitely worth your while reinforcing competent customer service right across your organization.
The importance of email in customer service
Despite the rise of social media, email remains the most popular method of communication between businesses and consumers. Moreover, email is typically the go-to touchpoint for customer service interactions, whether for complaints, inquiries, or discussing issues that require immediate attention. So, why is email preferred over other forms of communication, such as social media?
- Email provides a direct line of communication between the company and the customer, offering a structured format where both parties can easily access historical communication.
- Customers feel safe expressing their opinions and potentially feel more valued in a formal, private one-to-one interaction.
- Not everybody has a social media account, and it is hard to come by somebody who doesn’t use email.
- Email gives both parties adequate “breathing space” to resolve issues, rather than the instant messaging feature provided by social media.
However, writing customer service emails is not as straightforward as it appears. If you have a disgruntled customer or are unfamiliar with best practices, you could easily make a bad situation worse. In addition, a lack of experience with drafting customer service emails can also result in a loss of revenue-generating opportunities, which can affect your bottom line and cause you to fall behind your competition. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of five short tips to help you create more effective customer service emails so you can feel completely confident when interacting with people via this medium.
Show that you’re a human
First things first, you need to let the customer know that you are, in fact, a human being and not an automated bot. Most of us can attest to the frustration that canned replies and computer-generated responses bring, especially if you need an issue resolved promptly. Therefore, try to show a human side when generating your email response. This could be as simple as using their first name or directly referencing some of the issues they brought up in their initial email contact.
Empathy is the act of recognizing, feeling, understanding, and vicariously experiencing another person’s emotions, thoughts, and experiences. It goes without saying, then, that empathy is a very useful trait to have while interacting with customers. For example, when addressing a customer’s problem, try to understand how they are feeling. Put yourself in their shoes before telling them you understand their concerns. Even if you disagree with what the customer is saying, a simple “I understand” can defuse and de-escalate a situation which can help you find more effective solutions.
Keep it professional
Maintaining professionalism is fundamental in customer service interactions. A polite demeanor, sound judgment, and maintaining one’s integrity go a long way toward improving customer satisfaction and retention and will undoubtedly assist you in reaching mutually beneficial solutions faster. However, appearing professional via email entails more than simply the words you use; it also includes how you portray yourself visually.
For starters, it’s important that you always use a business email (not a Gmail domain, for example); otherwise, customers may not feel as though your company is legitimate. If you have a team of employees, you must also ensure that they all use a uniform email signature that includes important company information, such as links to home pages, social trust badges, certifications, and company/employee contact details. The good news is that you don’t have to do all of this manually since tools such as WiseStamp can help you generate and manage company-wide unified email signatures in minutes. Simply follow WiseStamp’s Outlook signature guide in order to directly integrate the solution into your email service provider, and your entire customer-facing team will look more professional in no time.
Keep things simple and clear
In most cases, simplicity is the best course of action. Rather than getting bogged down in the specifics or arguing over semantics, you should strive to resolve the problem in a straightforward manner. This means using simple language and never making assumptions about a customer’s understanding of technical issues or industry jargon. Furthermore, over-familiarity can also make things complicated. Thus, keep your tone friendly yet informative, and concentrate on the resolution above all else.
Be realistic with the resolution
Finally, you must be realistic regarding your solution to the customer’s problem. Start by clearly defining the issue, and then, once you’ve identified a mutually beneficial solution, deliver it as is, with no extra bells and whistles. It’s easy to fall into the trap of overpromising a customer as a “quick fix,” especially if they’re irritated. However, you will end up causing additional problems for both you and the customer in the long run.
When you make a mistake, own up to it and apologize to the customer. If the product fails, acknowledge it and offer your apologies once again. After all, if there is one trait that people value, it is honesty. Keep this in mind across all of your email interactions with customers.
About the Author
Philip Piletic – My primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business, and marketing. I’m a writer, marketing consultant and guest author at several authority websites. In love with startups, the latest tech trends and helping others get their ideas off the ground. You can find me on LinkedIn.