How to Succeed at Email Customer Service

Email can be a tricky customer service channel. Because you don’t have a voice-to-voice or face-to-face connection, it’s more difficult to gauge how upset a customer might really be and get at the real heart of the issue. However, many customers prefer to send an email rather than call or come into your store because it’s quick and requires little effort on their part. For all these reasons, email customer service won’t be going away any time soon. Here are 3 things you shouldn’t be doing as part of your email customer service program.

1. Don’t Use Canned Responses

Letting a user know you received their inquiry and will get back to them soon is one thing. But actually having your customer service response be a form letter or script is just icky. Does the FAQ page on your website answer a user’s question? Sure, but that doesn’t mean you should just send them a link and call it a day. Take the time to give a customized response that will make your customer feel valued.

2. Don’t Make Excuses

When someone writes in with negative feedback, your first instinct may be to make excuses for the problem. It doesn’t matter what caused the issue or who might be to blame—making excuses won’t resolve the problem. Focus on providing an efficient resolution and winning that person back with attentive, positive service.

3. Don’t Rush Past the Problem to the Solution.

Before you make a hasty reply back to a customer, make sure to read their email carefully and thoughtfully consider how best to respond to them. While the types of issues that come up may be pretty standard for your business, the people who have these issues aren’t—and they each require a slightly different response.

In addition to these 3 things to avoid, here are 3 things you should be doing with email customer service.

1. Use Personalization

When responding to a customer’s inquiry, make sure to personalize your correspondence. Use their name, include any relevant purchase or account information, and be sure to sign off with your name as well. These small touches will ensure that your message sounds genuine and targeted to the customer rather than being an automated message from a system.

2. Set Expectations

If it’s going to take a couple of days to resolve an inquiry, don’t be afraid to tell the customer up front. Setting clear expectations so that the customers knows what the next steps are and when they will be happening will prevent any feelings of impatience or being forgotten about.

3. Provide a Human Element

Humans respond to other humans. When you’re emailing a customer, make sure your message incorporates a human element. Show that you really care about the problems the customer is having. Use informal (but still professional) language rather than stilted business or technical speak. Tell the customer how to reach you if they want to follow up outside of email. Anything you can do to reinforce a human connection will contribute to a more positive interaction between the customer and your business.

The Bottom Line

Email might not be everyone’s preferred customer service channel, but it can be effective when used correctly. Make sure to tailor your communications based on the specific problem and customer, focus on the right resolution rather than the quickest one, set clear expectations for what will happen and when, and give a personal touch to each email you send.