For whatever reason, writing business emails makes us tongue-tied. We focus so much on the task at hand that sometimes we forget to be civil. Service reps write so many emails each day to so many different customers that it’s difficult to make the time to adjust your tone. However, tone is essential in conveying empathy. Solving a customer’s problem while coming off as flippant or condescending is not a good service experience.
Here are a few quick tips for better emails that will make customers happy:
No matter how friendly your writing, customers don’t really want to spend much time reading emails from a service rep. Keep your remarks brief. It’s possible to be pleasant and instructive without scrawling a 200-word tome. Consider this actual example (names and specific references have been changed or omitted):
I have just added you to the Widgetware Enterprise account. If you already have Widgetware installed, there’s nothing more you need to do. You’ll now have full access to all the same great features (and more) at no charge to you.
If you haven’t used Widgetware before, welcome! Widgetware [offers all these fantastic benefits using these various features]. Watch a quick video about how Widgetware works and then install Widgetware to get started.
Once you have Widgetware installed, visit the Plan and Usage page to learn more about the features you now have access to. If you wish to remove yourself from this account, you can do so from that same link or by emailing me.
Thanks for using Widgetware. Please contact email@example.com if you have any questions.
All the best,
This email is professional, friendly, and helpful. It’s also 134 words. At its simplest, this email is informing the customer of an account status change. However, most of the message seems meant for new customers. A support message shouldn’t have to do all this heavy lifting to pitch a customer on features and benefits. Here’s an alternative version, trimmed down for brevity:
Great news, you’ve just been upgraded to Widgetware Enterprise! If you’ve already got our software installed, there’s nothing more for you to worry about. You can start taking advantage of [these fantastic benefits] right now.
If you’ve never used Widgetware before, check out this quick video to learn all the ways we can help you [achieve your goals], or respond directly to this message. I’m happy to answer any questions for you.
Same message, half the words.
The reason for many customer service emails is that something has gone wrong. To ensure a good experience however, the language should be kept positive whenever possible.
If a customer emails about something that’s not yet available, don’t say, “That feature is not currently available, but we’ll notify you as soon as it is.” Instead, keep the language positive and say, “That will be available later this year, and I can’t wait for it either! I’ve made a note to remind you personally as soon as it’s live on our site.”
Assigning blame is another tricky area where a conversation can slide into the negative. Let’s just get this out of the way now: it’s never the customer’s fault. By virtue of telling you she’s having a problem, the customer is doing you a favor. She’s giving you a chance to improve your product and your relationship with her.
Don’t say, “You have too many unique options for this opportunity filter to be effective. You need to reduce the number of options.” Instead, put the onus on your product and say, “We’ve found that having more than 20 options for a filter reduces its usefulness and can also negatively impact data freshness. If I can understand better how you want to use segment your opportunities, I can probably help you come up with a shorter list.”
Confidence, Not Arrogance
As a service rep, you’re going to have more product knowledge than the customer. Use that knowledge to offer help, but don’t rub the customer’s face in it. Confidence is important for a service rep—it puts the customer at ease knowing that they’re getting help from someone truly capable. You don’t need to go out of your way to show much you know about the product, that will come through on its own. Determine how familiar the customer is with the product and adjust your disclosure accordingly. If it’s a new user, you might need to list out instructions as a bulleted list:
- Click Settings near the top-right corner of the screen.
- Click Filters, the third item on the page.
- Click the yellow New Tag button near the top-right corner of the screen.
- Enter a team name and click Create Tag.
- To add someone to a team, click the team name in the Active Tags column within Enabled Employees.
For a more frequent user, that would be wordy and borderline condescending. You could simply say, “You can manage teams from Settings > Filters. Once you make a tag, you can apply it to any licensed employee. I’m happy to walk you through this in more detail if you’ve got questions.”
Remember, your goal is to provide great service so customers think positively about your company. Keeping your emails brief, positive, and confident will make customers happier. And, for everyone’s sake, don’t be like Jerry/Garry/Larry/Terry here and avoid using Comic Sans.