How to Provide Great Customer Service Through Email
Nov 18, 2014
Living in today’s automated world often leaves consumers yearning for a real, live person when they have customer service issues. As a small business owner, you don’t have to bemoan the growth of technology in customer interactions. If done correctly, email is a great platform to provide personalized customer service — and small businesses have a huge advantage over large competitors.
Here are some of our best bits of advice for responding to customer service issues through email:
1. Respond to email within one business day.
If a customer takes the time to contact you, don’t wait to reply, even if it’s simply to let the person know you’ve received the message and are working on a response. If you can’t solve the problem in your initial email, give a realistic time frame of when you’ll be able to respond with a solution.
2. Use templates, but personalize them.
When dealing with customer service issues, you probably send a lot of the same types of emails. It makes sense to create templates for common issues, especially if multiple people within your company handle customer service emails. Be sure to personalize the templates though, or you’ll risk seeming like a large, automated customer service department within a big business. Follow a template, but use customers’ names and include information about their specific issues. Sign each email with a real person’s name and signature to make it more personal.
3. Develop email guidelines.
Think of it as an employee handbook for online communications. Email can be less formal than other types of communication, but employees must be reminded to remain professional. Emails to customers shouldn’t include jokes, profanity or political statements. Even though email can be more conversational and casual, you should always use correct grammar, punctuation and spelling. (And don’t 4get to remind ppl not to use txt shorthand.)
4. Make sure you understand the problem before you send a response.
Customers often write garbled and hard-to-understand emails explaining their problem. You might think you understand what they’re asking, and then discover two other issues when you reread the message. If you handle a customer service issue over the phone, you can talk about it and uncover the real issue. But you have to be twice as careful to find the real issue through email. Ensure you’ve resolved the problem before you send a response, or you risk frustrating the customer even more.
5. Follow up after you’ve resolved the issue.
This small step takes little time and can make a great impression. A few days after the issue has been resolved, send a brief follow-up email to make sure the customer is still satisfied with the resolution.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is,” and neither the author nor Office Depot warrants the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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