Thorough, helpful, readable writing can help your business earn customers’ loyalty and trust. In customer support e-mails, your team’s writing is more important than ever. People who have a service need are already spending effort and time trying to solve a problem. Whether they want to learn more about a product’s specs, update their billing details, or complain, they have a goal in mind—and want to achieve it now. They certainly don’t want to strain to understand what you’re saying.
Unclear, frustrating, or misleading messages lead to unhappy customers with unsolved problems. Equally important, poor writing makes customer service look substandard, even if it does end up helping fix an issue. It just seems shoddy, indicating the writer didn’t take much care. That doesn’t leave people feeling confident.
Everyone has seen bad customer service e-mails, but while it’s hard to avoid from others, your business does not have to be guilty of poor writing. There are simple ways to avoid it.
Customer service writing…
…fails when it’s generic; succeeds when it’s personalized.
E-mails come off as impersonal and stilted if the writer is clearly avoiding “I” and “my,” or always talks about “the company” rather than its staff. It’s much more reassuring to hear that a specific human being has applied brainpower to the situation. If you can, provide a personal method of reply: an e-mail address or phone number that lets the customer reach you in particular.
…fails when it’s too stiff or too casual; succeeds when it sticks politely to the facts.
Write matter-of-factly, adjusting your language to match the tone of the message you’re answering. If it’s friendly, a friendly response is appropriate. If it’s an angry complaint, a more formal tone might be better.
Don’t overdo it either way, though. “We sincerely appreciate your inquiry into this matter” sounds awkward and insincere—but so does “Wow, that’s crazy! Our bad!”
…fails when it dodges the core issue; succeeds when it addresses the question head-on.
Customers aren’t looking just for a sympathetic reply: they want substance. If it’s not relevant or helpful, even the best-written response won’t help them. Not sure what they mean? Ask a clarifying question. And if you can’t resolve an issue quickly, say so, then share your plan to get answers. That’s frustrating to learn, but your reader will prefer it to a long e-mail that turns out to be useless.
Great customer service means resolving issues as painlessly as possible. High-quality, reader-centered writing is more and more critical as support moves to e-mail and chat. Being there for your customers every day can be a delicate part of a business’s operations. Ensure your teams have the communication skills they need!